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Report: Houthi Missile Got Within a Mile of a U.S. Navy Destroyer

USS Gravely tests her CIWS system, 2022 (USN)
USS Gravely tests her CIWS system, 2022 (USN)

Published Jan 31, 2024 7:04 PM by The Maritime Executive

U.S. officials say that a Houthi cruise missile got so close to a U.S. Navy warship that it had to be shot down with the ship's Close-In Weapons System (CIWS), according to CBS and CNN. The high-speed gun system is used to knock down threats that make it past the vessel's air-defense missiles. 

On Tuesday, U.S. Central Command confirmed that the destroyer USS Gravely shot down a Houthi anti-ship cruise missile in the Red Sea. The command did not specify whether Gravely had been targeted herself, but on Wednesday, four officials told CNN that the missile got to within one nautical mile of the destroyer before it was shot down. The ship's CIWS cannon eliminated the threat, and there were no injuries or damage reported. 

Houthi spokesman Yahya Saree confirmed the attempted attack on the Gravely in a statement Tuesday. "All American and British warships in the Red and Arab Seas . . . are within the target bank of our forces," he said. 

It represents the second time that Houthi forces have targeted an American warship, following an attempted attack on USS Carney last week. It is also the second time that a Houthi munition has gotten close enough to a coalition warship to be targeted with the ship's guns.

On January 9, in responding to a large-scale Houthi attack, the Royal Navy destroyer HMS Diamond took down seven drones in a day, including one with her 30mm gun. (It was the Royal Navy's first confirmed aerial kill with antiaircraft guns since the Korean War.)

Houthi rebels have been attacking shipping in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden for months, and the U.S. Navy has attempted to tamp down the threat with air-defense escorts and a series of counterstrikes. The latest counterattack occurred Wednesday afternoon: Central Command authorized a strike on a Houthi air defense missile that was prepared for launch against an American aircraft in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen.