Tactical

USS Mason shoots down another air drone in the Red Sea

The Navy destroyer Mason shot down an air drone on Wednesday that officials attributed to Iran-allied Houthi rebels in Yemen — the latest episode of a U.S. warship intercepting air drones and missiles in the Middle East in recent weeks.

“We can confirm the USS Mason shot down an uncrewed aerial vehicle originating from Houthi controlled areas of Yemen at 10:20 a.m. (Yemen time) Dec. 6 in the southern Red Sea,” a military official granted anonymity to discuss operations said in an email to Navy Times. “There was no damage or injury to U.S. equipment or personnel.”

As with other recent instances of Navy ships shooting down air drones, the official said the drone was headed toward the Mason but that its intended target is unclear. Additional details were not provided Wednesday.

The incident comes days after Navy destroyer Carney shot down multiple air drones Sunday as several merchant ships came under attack by Houthis in Yemen missiles fired from Houthi rebel-controlled areas of Yemen, as well as continued attacks on U.S. ground forces in Iraq and Syria following the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war.

“We also have every reason to believe that these attacks, while launched by the Houthis in Yemen, are fully enabled by Iran,” U.S. Central Command said in a statement late Sunday afternoon U.S. time. “The United States will consider all appropriate responses in full coordination with its international allies and partners.”

Late last month, the Pentagon said that Houthis fired at least one ballistic missile in the general direction of the Mason in the Gulf of Aden as it responded to a distress call from the Israeli-linked commercial vessel Central Park.

“We also at this point assess that the vessels, the Mason and the Central Park, were not the intended targets,” Pentagon press secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters Nov. 28.

Ryder also told reporters last month that five armed individuals from Somalia boarded the Central Park and sought to take control of the vessel and access the crew cabin. The crew of the commercial ship locked themselves “into a safe haven,” he said.

When the Mason arrived in response to the distress call, the armed individuals fled the scene. However, a search and seizure team the Mason dispatched detained them aboard the ship.

The Mason is part of aircraft carrier Dwight D. Eisenhower’s carrier strike group, which departed Norfolk, Virginia, in October for a scheduled deployment. The carrier transited the Strait of Hormuz into the Persian Gulf last month.

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