US Thwarts First Underwater Vessel Operated By Houthis In Red Sea

By Ethan Cole on
 February 19, 2024

The calm of the sea was breached by unforeseen aggression this past Saturday.

The US Central Command intervened to prevent five calculated attacks by Houthi rebels, signifying a notable escalation with the introduction of an unmanned underwater vessel aimed at stealth operations.

This aggressive stance adopted by the Houthi rebels expanded to include an assault on the Danish oil tanker M/T Pollux. Flying under the Panama flag, the vessel became a target amid heightened naval confrontations that have drawn worldwide attention and concern.

Precision and Peril: US Forces Thwart Houthi Maritime Threats

Beyond the attempted stealth by underwater means, the Houthi forces deployed three anti-ship cruise missiles and an unmanned surface vessel, all earmarked as direct threats. US forces, acting on intelligence, neutralized these threats with tactical precision between 3 and 8 p.m. local time on that fateful Saturday.

The assaults included a missile strike on the M/T Pollux. Three of four missiles launched were intercepted, but one succeeded in striking the tanker. Thankfully, the crew emerged unscathed from this harrowing ordeal, with their vessel scheduled to transport crude oil to India.

According to the US State Department, the impact was on the port side of the tanker. Despite the attack's precision, Yahya Sarea, a Houthi military spokesman, inaccurately termed the targeted vessel as British. His assertion, "the strikes were accurate and direct," underscores a brazen misrecognition.

International Efforts Rise to Thwart Naval Threats

This incident is part of a broader canvas of hostilities, with the Houthis vowing to impede maritime traffic through the Red Sea as long as conflicts persist in Gaza. This stance has already manifested in the past with attacks such as the one on the British oil tanker Marlin Luanda, which suffered fires due to a missile assault.

A coalition of nations led by the European Union is now rallying to safeguard these critical sea lanes. Germany has committed naval resources to a mission aimed at ensuring the security of ships navigating the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. These international measures complement ongoing US and UK military actions targeting Houthi infrastructure and armaments in Yemen.

Earlier initiatives have seen US and UK forces decimate over 30 Houthi positions across Yemen, signaling a formidable response to the rebels' provocations. Meanwhile, the streets of Sana’a witness daily gatherings of Houthi supporters, championing their offensive against US involvement and advocating for a withdrawal of forces from Gaza.

CENTCOM's statement highlights the immediacy of the threat and the swift response it necessitated:

CENTCOM identified [three] anti-ship cruise missiles, [an] unmanned underwater vessel, and the unmanned surface vessel in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen and determined they presented an imminent threat to US Navy ships and merchant vessels in the region.

Conclusion

The unrivaled aggression displayed by the Houthi rebels through their novel use of an unmanned underwater vessel alongside traditional missile attacks against maritime targets has marked a significant upturn in regional hostilities. The targeting of the M/T Pollux underscores the precarious state of maritime security in the face of such threats. Despite the formidable challenge, the concerted efforts of the US Central Command, alongside international partners, stand as a bulwark against these disruptions. These interventions not only serve to protect vital maritime lanes but also underscore a collective resolve to uphold international norms and peace amidst brewing conflicts.

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