According to a Pentagon source who cited initial assessments, the five armed persons that attacked a commercial vessel in the Gulf of Aden over the weekend were from Somalia.
Reporters were informed by Brigadier General Patrick Ryder that the event was “clearly…” linked to piracy. He also mentioned that the assailants’ possible links to the Houthi rebels in Yemen are currently being evaluated by the Defence Department.
According to the Department of Defence, the destroyer USS Mason and several other ships from the neighbouring counter-piracy task force were the first to respond to Sunday’s distress calls from the cargo ship Central Park, which reported an attack. Ryder added that three Chinese navy vessels conducting a counter-piracy mission were also in the area, but they did not answer the distress call.
According to DOD, the task force demanded the release of the civilian vessel once the coalition ships arrived. Zodiac Maritime, headquartered in London, oversees the small tanker Central Park, which is flying the Liberian flag. Afterwards, the five people jumped ship and made a break for it in a little boat.
Ryder stated that the Mason did not do any harm while he pursued and shot at the boat. On board the Mason, the assailants were captured by the U.S. Navy crew.
The Department of Defence reports that two ballistic missiles were launched “towards the general location” of the Mason from Yemeni territory held by the Houthi group around 1.5 hours later. According to Ryder, the ship did not try to shoot down the missiles, but instead tracked them until they safely landed in the Gulf, around 10 nautical miles away.
Whether the Mason was the intended target of the attack is still being assessed, according to Ryder of the DOD. If so, the Houthi rebels would be firing missiles at U.S. naval forces in the Gulf for the first time since the Hamas strikes on Israel on October 7.
According to Ryder, who spoke to reporters on October 17, the number of attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria has increased to 73. But Thursday was the day of the most recent assaults.
Ryder made no mention of the truce between Israel and Hamas, which started on Friday and was supposed to terminate at midnight on Monday Eastern time, as a possible explanation for the paucity of strikes. According to the announcement made by Qatari mediators on Monday, the truce has been extended for another two days by both parties.
The news broke on Sunday as the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group made its way into the Persian Gulf, according to the Navy.