MANAMA, BAHRAIN – A close call between a US destroyer and a Houthi-launched missile in the Red Sea on Tuesday has raised concerns about the ongoing threat posed by the Houthis to US naval assets and commercial shipping in the region. The missile came within a mile of the USS Gravely before being shot down, marking the closest a Houthi attack has come to a US warship.
According to US officials, the Houthis have continued to pose a threat despite multiple US and British strikes on Houthi infrastructure inside Yemen. The incident also comes on the heels of a drone attack by Iran-backed militants at a US outpost in Jordan, which resulted in the deaths of three US service members.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin condemned the “reckless and illegal attacks” against US warships and commercial vessels in the region, linking the attacks to Iran’s support for the Houthis. The US has faced challenges in intercepting Houthi-launched missiles, with concerns raised about the capacity problem faced by US warships, which have a finite supply of interceptor missiles to use.
The Houthis, who acquire much of their weapons technology from Iran, continue to launch missiles and drones at vessels in the Red Sea. In addition to airstrikes against Houthi weapons, the US Navy recently seized Iranian-made ballistic and cruise missile components destined for the Houthis in Yemen. The US is currently considering how to respond to the drone attack in Jordan, but officials have emphasized that they do not seek a military conflict with Iran.
The ongoing tensions in the region have prompted the US to weigh potential responses to Iranian or Iran-backed assets, while also emphasizing a desire to avoid an escalation towards war. As the situation continues to develop, concerns persist about the ability of US warships to effectively defend against Houthi attacks, with a focus on addressing the threat posed by Iran’s support for the Houthis.