USS Mason Involved in Sixth Shoot Down of Drone Launched from Yemen

US warship downs drone
USS Mason was involved in today's incident shooting down another drone launched from Yemen (Military Sealift file photo)

Published Dec 6, 2023 3:41 PM by The Maritime Executive


U.S. forces have taken down yet another drone launched from Yemen on Wednesday in the direction of shipping and U.S. warships in the southern portion of the Red Sea. It was the sixth acknowledged incident by the U.S. forces and according to the Jerusalem Post was followed by the Houthi rebels firing ballistic missiles at the southern Israeli city of Eilat.

The destroyer USS Mason took down the latest drone to be launched. U.S. officials confirmed the takedown while again saying it was unclear if the drone was aimed at a specific target. They however told CNN that the drone had become sufficiently close to the Mason that the captain decided it was a threat and should be taken down. 

United Kingdom Trade Operations also issued a warning today, December 6, to shipping. They reported receiving a report of an uncrewed aerial system near the western port of Hodeidah in Yemen. Vessels were warned to exercise caution and report any suspicious activity.

This latest incident comes as the United States is reportedly conferring with allies regarding the response to the ongoing threat in the region. So far, the ships struck by the attacks including the bulkers on Sunday reported only minor damage and no injuries to their crew. However, Yemen continues to hold the crew and the car carrier Galaxy Leader with fears they might attempt to seize other ships. The owner of the car carrier has appealed for the release of the vessel’s crew saying they have no involvement in the current dispute. They pointed out that the crewmembers are mostly Filipinos as well as a few Bulgarians, Ukrainians, Mexicans, and a Romanian citizen.

Reuters on Monday citing unnamed sources familiar with Saudi Arabia said the kingdom had made a private appeal to the United States for a restrained response to the recent attacks by the Houthis. While they are the enemy of Saudi Arabia, it is believed the Saudis are trying to take steps to prevent a further widening of the hostilities as tensions rise after Israel renewed its attacks against Hamas in southern Gaza.

Pentagon officials confirmed during a briefing on Monday that the U.S. is discussing a military task force for the Red Seas region similar to the efforts in the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf. The spokesperson said the attacks against commercial shipping made it clear that the situation is an international problem. 

U.S. officials have repeatedly contended that it was unclear if the attacks were targeting the warships, including the Carney which was involved in Sunday’s incident, and the Mason which took down the drone today and assisted the tanker that was attacked the prior week. 

A Houthi spokesperson in a public statement late today confirmed that they had fired missiles. They contended they were targeting a southern Israeli military installation. The missiles appear to have fallen short not causing any damage.