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U.S. Destroys Houthi Suicide Drone Boat in Red Sea

In this 2020 file photo, a Houthi drone boat approaches a target in the Red Sea. Houthi forces have used remote-control bomb boats for years (Saudi military handout)
In this 2020 file photo, a Houthi drone boat approaches a target in the Red Sea. Houthi forces have used remote-control bomb boats for years (Saudi military handout)

Published Feb 1, 2024 8:07 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Wednesday, in the middle of a series of Houthi attacks on shipping, U.S. forces engaged and destroyed one of the group's suicide attack drone boats in the Red Sea.

Yesterday morning, U.S. forces detected a Houthi-operated drone boat heading towards the international shipping lanes of the Red Sea. U.S. Central Command assessed that the boat posed an "imminent threat" to merchant ships and to U.S. Navy warships in the region, justifying its immediate destruction. 

U.S. forces struck and destroyed the boat, "resulting in significant secondary explosions," CENTCOM said. The large blast would be consistent with a large onboard explosive payload.

No injuries or damage were reported as a result of the interdiction. It was the second attempted drone boat strike reported in a month: in early January, a Houthi drone boat approached to within visible range of the shipping lanes and then detonated, according to the Pentagon. 

Thanks to technical support from Iran, Yemen's Houthi rebels have developed a degree of expertise in drone boat technology. Years before Ukraine's exploits on the Black Sea made suicide drone boats famous, the Houthis were attacking Saudi ships with unmanned speedboats laden with powerful explosives. In the most prominent example, a Houthi boat hit and damaged the Saudi frigate Al Madinah in January 2017.