June 17, 2024 | Flash Brief

U.S. Navy Rescues Crew of Greek-Owned Ship Attacked by Houthi Rebels

June 17, 2024 | Flash Brief

U.S. Navy Rescues Crew of Greek-Owned Ship Attacked by Houthi Rebels

Latest Developments

U.S. naval forces rescued a civilian crew from a Greek-owned merchant ship struck by Iran-backed Houthi rebels in the Red Sea, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command said on June 16. A Houthi-launched uncrewed surface vessel struck the Liberian-flagged bulk cargo carrier M/V Tutor, which was transporting coal across the southern Red Sea, on June 12. The strike caused severe flooding and damage to the engine room.

On June 15, U.S. sailors from the Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group (IKECSG) rescued 24 civilian mariners from the M/V Tutor. One crew member remains missing. “It’s humbling to watch the Strike Group provide assistance and rescue the crew of M/V Tutor,” said Rear Adm. Marc Miguez, commander, IKECSG, Carrier Strike Group 2. “We are always prepared to help; it is the right thing to do.”

The U.S.-designated terror group has vowed to continue attacks against Red Sea commercial shipping as long as the Gaza war continues.On May 8, Houthi leader Abdul Mailk al-Houthi said the rebel group would target “ships of any company related to supplying or transporting goods to Israel regardless of their destination.” Since November, the shipping operations of more than 65 countries have been disrupted by over 50 Houthi attacks.

Expert Analysis

“Tehran continues to earn its title as the worst state sponsor of terrorism. The United States Navy is engaged in an ongoing proxy war with Iran in the Red Sea — some of the most intense naval combat the service has seen in years — and yet, in Washington, Iran policy continues to plod along as ineffective and disconnected from reality, as usual.” — Bradley Bowman, Senior Director of FDD’s Center on Military and Political Power

“The Houthis’ attacks on shipping have shown the same level of target discrimination as a mass shooter anything and everything are targets. Their claims of working on behalf of Palestinians should be treated with the same degree of respect as a shooter’s manifesto. Thankfully, the U.S. Navy was on station to rescue civilians caught in the line of fire.” Ryan Brobst, FDD Senior Research Analyst

Iranian Navy Ignores Distress Call After Houthis Strike Cargo Ship

Following a separate Houthi strike on June 13, aircraft from the USS Philippine Sea evacuated one severely injured civilian mariner from the Palau-flagged, Ukrainian-owned, Polish-operated bulk cargo carrier M/V Verbena. The Houthi rebels struck the ship in the Gulf of Aden with two anti-ship cruise missiles in two separate attacks. U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) noted that nearby Iranian navy frigate IRIN Jamaran ignored the M/V Verbena’s distress call. Another civilian vessel rescued the crew, which abandoned the ship due to continued fires.

On June 14, CENTCOM commented on the incident: “This continued malign and reckless behavior by the Iranian-backed Houthis threatens regional stability and endangers the lives of mariners across the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. The Houthis claim to be acting on behalf of Palestinians in Gaza and yet they are targeting and threatening the lives of third-country nationals who have nothing to do with the conflict in Gaza.” The United States “will continue to act with partners to hold the Houthis accountable and degrade their military capabilities,” CENTCOM added. The U.S. Navy has been fighting some of its most sustained combat since World War II in defending against Houthi attacks.

How Iranian weapons are smuggled to the Houthis,” by Seth J. Frantzman

Houthis escalate Red Sea ship attacks in tandem with other Iranian proxies,” by Seth J. Frantzman

Houthis Target Ships Linked to Israel,” FDD Flash Brief

Issues:

Iran Iran Global Threat Network Iran-backed Terrorism Military and Political Power U.S. Defense Policy and Strategy