US Warship Shoots Down Missiles and Drones Over the Red Sea

destoryer USS Carney
USS Carney during her 2018 deployment in the Mediterranean (US Navy photo)

Published Oct 19, 2023 7:07 PM by The Maritime Executive

The Pentagon confirmed late today, October 19, that a U.S. guided missile destroyer, USS Carney, successfully incepted missiles and drones over the Red Sea. While they are saying the targets were unclear, they noted the weapons were heading north and could well have been aimed at Israel. An analysis is ongoing.

CNN broke the story this afternoon of the potential attack reporting that evidence showed the missiles and drones had been launched from Yemen. They were believed to be coming from the areas controlled by the Houthi rebels, although the Pentagon would not confirm who was suspected of launching the weapons.

“We cannot say for certain what these missiles and drones were targeting, but they were launched from Yemen heading north along the Red Sea, potentially towards targets in Israel,” Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters as part of a briefing in which he described the U.S.’s ongoing efforts to support Israel.

A total of three missiles were taken down along with an unspecified number of drones. All of them were reported to be over the Red Sea and heading north from Yemen when the order was given to intercept them. The Pentagon does not believe any of the weapons were aimed at the Carney, which conducted the intercept, or any other U.S. assets in the area. Analysts are however noting that the distance between Yemen and Israel would be at the upper limits of the capabilities of the missiles that were shot down.

“This action was a demonstration of the integrated air and missile defense architecture that we built in the Middle East and that we are prepared to utilize whenever necessary to protect our partners and our interest in this important region,” Ryder told the reporters in the briefing which was also broadcast live over the Internet.


USS Carney transiting the Suez Canal yesterday, October 18 (US Navy photo)


The Carney, which had been operating with the Gerald R. Ford Strike Group, had just arrived in the northern Red Sea shortly before the incident. The guided-missile destroyer repositioned from the Eastern Mediterranean with the US Navy confirming yesterday, October 18 the vessel had transited the Suez Canal. The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, the U.S. Navy said is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations. They said it was being used “to help ensure maritime security and stability in the Middle East region.”

The positioning of the Carney in the Red Sea comes as the U.S. Navy has been repositioning assets in the Eastern Mediterranean. The Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group was redeployed to the Eastern Mediterranean on October 10 just three days after the brutal attack on Israel by Hamas. The strike group consists of the Ford, Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy and Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Thomas Hudner, USS Ramage, and USS Roosevelt, in addition to the USS Carney.

Two days ago, the Dwight D. Eisenhower Strike Group also arrived in the Eastern Mediterranean. Reports are that the carrier is traveling with the cruiser USS Philippine Sea and the destroyers USS Gravely and USS Mason. In addition, the Pentagon reported sending the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and the amphibs USS Carter Hall and USS Bataan to the Eastern Mediterranean followed by reports that the U.S. 6th Fleet command ship, USS Mount Whitney, was joining the growing flotilla off the Israeli coast. More than 2,000 Marines are also among the force assembled in the Eastern Mediterranean, all in a show of force and support for Israel and in an attempt to prevent further escalation in the region.