January 19, 2024 | Flash Brief

CENTCOM: Houthis Carry Out Multiple Attacks on Red Sea Shipping

January 19, 2024 | Flash Brief

CENTCOM: Houthis Carry Out Multiple Attacks on Red Sea Shipping

Latest Developments

The Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen carried out multiple attacks on shipping in or near the Southern Red Sea in recent days, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) said on January 18. Most recently, the Houthis fired two anti-ship ballistic missiles at the U.S.-owned Chem Ranger ship on the evening of January 18. “The crew observed the missiles impact the water near the ship. There were no reported injuries or damage to the ship. The ship has continued underway,” CENTCOM said. Houthi-controlled media claimed the Houthis attacked the ship, and will continue to attack more ships, because of the war in Gaza and “US-British aggression.” The Houthis have backed Hamas after it attacked Israel on October 7 and massacred 1,200 people in Israel.

Expert Analysis

“This week, we saw four terror attacks in four days on commercial vessels by the Iran-backed Houthis. Most of the vessels attacked are U.S. owned. The U.S. conducted multiple strikes this week on Houthi missiles that were prepared to launch, but the scale and nature of U.S. strikes thus far have clearly been insufficient to stop the Iranian-backed maritime terrorism. And simply attacking existing missiles while not undertaking a comprehensive effort to more effectively counter Iranian weapons smuggling to Yemen is like cleaning up puddles in your home while ignoring the leak in the roof.” —Bradley Bowman, Senior Director of FDD’s Center on Military and Political Power

“Last week, the Biden administration began long-overdue cost imposition strikes on Houthi missile, drone, and radar facilities. Recent Houthi actions demonstrate why the U.S. must expand its targeting to include the Houthis’ maritime and aviation capabilities.” — RADM (Ret.) Mark Montgomery, Senior Director of FDD’s Center on Cyber and Technology Innovation and FDD Senior Fellow

“The Iranian-backed Houthi threats to shipping have escalated. The Houthis continue to act as if they have impunity to attack ships in the Red Sea and they have expanded their attacks to shipping lanes off the coast of Aden in Yemen. The recent increase in attacks shows that they are not deterred, despite U.S. airstrikes. The U.S. and partner countries should continue to degrade Houthi capabilities and defend shipping until the Iranian-backed groups stops its threats.” — Seth J. Frantzman, FDD Adjunct Fellow

The Houthi Attacks

In addition to the January 18 attack, a Houthi drone struck the Genco Picardy, which CENTCOM described as a “Marshall Islands flagged, U.S. owned and operated bulk carrier ship,” on January 17. On January 16, CENTCOM said the Houthis struck the Zografia, a Maltese-flagged bulk carrier, which “reported they were struck but seaworthy and were continuing their Red Sea transit. No injuries were reported.”

On January 15, CENTCOM said an anti-ship ballistic missile struck the “Gibraltar Eagle, a Marshall Islands-flagged, U.S.-owned and operated container ship. The ship has reported no injuries or significant damage and is continuing its journey.” On January 14, CENTCOM said that U.S. fighter aircraft shot down a missile fired toward the USS Laboon.

U.S. Strikes Destroy Houthi Anti-Ship Missiles

U.S. strikes targeted Houthi anti-ship missiles in Yemen on January 18. CENTCOM said the strikes were “part of ongoing multi-national efforts to protect freedom of navigation and prevent attacks on maritime vessels in the Red Sea.” According to the statement, the strikes targeted missiles that U.S. forces deemed to be an “an imminent threat to merchant vessels and U.S. Navy ships in the region.” The military action followed similar U.S. strikes on the previous two days. That includes U.S. strikes on January 17 that CENTCOM said hit “14 Iran-backed Houthi missiles that were loaded to be fired in Houthi controlled areas in Yemen.” CENTCOM also said that U.S. strikes on January 16 destroyed four anti-ship ballistic missiles that “were prepared to launch.”

Houthis Vow to Continue Attacks Despite U.S., UK Airstrikes,” FDD Flash Brief

U.S., UK Shoot Down Largest Houthi Missile and Drone Barrage in Red Sea,” FDD Flash Brief

Iran Seizes Oil Tanker Off Coast of Oman,” FDD Flash Brief


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