U.S. Destroyers Help Defeat Iranian Attack on Israel

USS arleigh burke
USS Arleigh Burke was on hand to participate in the operation (USN file image)

Published Apr 14, 2024 9:14 PM by The Maritime Executive


When Iran decided to attack Israel with hundreds of drones and missiles over the weekend, the U.S. Navy was standing by to provide air defense. The destroyers USS Carney and USS Arleigh Burke were on hand in the Eastern Mediterranean, officials told USNI, and they shot down four to six Iranian ballistic missiles. 

U.S. fighter aircraft also contributed to the anti-drone effort. Out of about 300 drones and missiles launched, about 99 percent were destroyed. One injury was reported, but otherwise the large-scale attack inflicted little damage. 

“To support the defense of Israel, the U.S. military moved aircraft and ballistic missile defense destroyers to the region over the course of the past week,” President Joe Biden said in a statement. "We helped Israel take down nearly all of the incoming drones and missiles."

The strike was launched in retaliation for the alleged assassination of seven Iranian military officers at Iran's embassy in Damascus, which Tehran has blamed on Israel. Iran's quasi-official Coalition Council of Islamic Revolution Forces has confirmed that one of the slain officers, Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Zahedi, helped Hamas plan the October 7 attack on Israel, which killed 1,200 people. 

Tehran launched a retaliatory missile attack for Zahedi's death on Saturday, but gave an abundant 72 hours of advance notice to neighboring countries about its plans, according to Reuters - providing ample time to organize thorough air defense measures for Israeli territory. The Biden administration denies that it had information from Iran about the pending attack, though Turkish diplomatic sources told Reuters that this was incorrect. 

After the strike, Iranian leaders immediately released a statement suggesting that they viewed the cycle of hostilities as over. 

TankerTrackers.com notes that Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has repositioned a "drone carrier," the converted boxship Shahid Mahdavi, to the port of Chabahar. The ship is equipped to launch suicide drones and has been used in the past to test-launch ballistic missiles. Operating out of Chabahar, it would be well-situated to attack targets in the Gulf of Oman and Arabian Sea.

To press its political objectives, Iran has also seized a boxship, the 158,000 dwt MSC Aries. The vessel is owned by Zodiac Maritime and operated by MSC, and Iran has described it as an "Israeli-linked" ship.