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Italy Approves Red Sea Mission After Destroyer Downs Houthi Drone

Caio Duilio
Italian destroyer Caio Duilio has already destroyed a Houthi drone as the country officially approved participation in the mission (Italian Navy)

Published Mar 5, 2024 3:23 PM by The Maritime Executive

 

A day after the attack by the Houthis on an MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company vessel, Italian lawmakers officials approved the country’s participation in the EU’s Operation Aspides in the Red Sea region. A Houthi official pointed out that six European nations are now their enemies in addition to the United States which started the mission to maintain the shipping lanes. 

The Italian Parliament convened today to approve the defensive mission in the Red Sea while the defense minister highlighted that the country’s vessels would be authorized to also take actions when they were threatened. The lower house approved the participation with a vote of 271 to 6 while the Senate unanimously adopted the mission. They also voted to provide humanitarian aid to Gaza.

The move came after the fact as the Italian destroyer Caio Duilio (7,000 dwt) has been on patrol in the region since late last week. The vessel is one of the newest in the Italian fleet having entered service in 2011. Italy is also active in the region as one of the leads in the EUNAVFOR Mission Atalanta which patrols the coast of Somalia and into the Indian Ocean.

The German command highlighted that the Duilio had already begun on March 1 its escort mission. They reported that the vessel had been accompanying a cargo ship through a portion of the Red Sea before handing off the vessel to the German frigate Hessen.

The following day, March 2, a Houthi drown was observed approaching the Duilio. The destroyer reportedly used its 76 mm main gun when the drone was about six kilometers from the Italian ship. Flying towards the Duilio, the drone was destroyed with the Houthis later responding that the action made Italian shipping a target.

Speaking today, Italy’s defense Minister Guido Crosetto responded to the attack on the Liberian-flagged MSC Sky II. He noted that the corporation is based in Switzerland and that the ship was headed towards Djibouti. “I am not aware that neither Switzerland, nor Liberia, nor Djibouti have ever participated in any way in the ongoing conflict in Gaza,” he said condemning the actions of the militants.