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Massive Houthi Drone Barrage Downed by US and Coalition Warships

UK missile defense
HMS Richmond deployed its Sea Ceptor system for the first time in combat (UK Defence)

Published Mar 9, 2024 4:30 PM by The Maritime Executive

 

In possibly the largest single attack since they began targeting shipping, Yemen’s Houthi militants launched a massive barrage targeting American and other warships in both the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden in the early morning hours of Saturday, March 9. The forces of the U.S., UK, France, and Denmark are each reporting actions including employing some of the most sophisticated weapons in the arena.

Houthi spokesperson Yahya Saree said that they had launched a total of 37 drones toward the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, claiming to have “successfully achieved their goals.” They also claimed responsibility for targeting the Propel Fortune, a Singapore-owned and registered bulker calling it an “American ship.” This came after he posted on Friday that their daily military update was postponed “Due to the urgent military developments in the theater of military operations.”

Earlier in the day on Friday, the Houthi had highlighted that “our strikes are escalating.” U.S. Central Command appeared to confirm the trend, that during the week the Houthi fired at least five anti-ship ballistic missiles, including the strike on the MSC Sky II and the fatal attack on the True Confidence

The exact number of drones launched Saturday is unclear. The U.S. reported earlier on Friday destroying two truck-mounted anti-ship missiles in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen. On Saturday, Central Command initially said 15 were destroyed, and after further assessment of the engagement it raised the tally to at least 28.

Initial reports said the French frigate Alsace downed two drones, later revised to four. The Danish frigate Iver Huitfeldt reported that it downed four drones that were approaching the area at about 0400 local time.

 

The UK Defense Department and Minister of Defense Grant Shapps reported the UK’s HMS Richmond deployed its Sea Ceptor missile system for the first time in combat. The sophisticated system was credited with downing two drones with the UK releasing video of the interception. The Richmond recently relieved the HMS Diamond which went to Gibraltar for maintenance and replenishment. The UK reports that Diamond is now returning to the Red Sea region to rejoin the mission.

In addition to the attacks on the warships, France’s Army Staff reports that some of the attacks appeared to be targeting the heavily damaged bulker True Confidence, which was abandoned on Wednesday after a missile strike killed three crewmembers and started a fire. France said they defended the vessel which they reported is now being towed as part of the salvage operation. 

French frigate Alsace opens fire with her deck gun to shoot down an inbound drone (Marine Nationale)

Previous unconfirmed reports also speculated that the Houthi were involved in efforts to hasten the loss of the damaged bulker Rubymar. Hours before the ship sunk last weekend, there was a report by UK security consultants Ambrey that the militants were at the ship and that some were possibly injured in an unknown activity.