Navy strikes radar sites in Yemen in response to missile attacks on ships

By ERIK SLAVIN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: October 13, 2016

The United States attacked three radar sites in Yemen early Thursday in response to two missile attacks in four days on Navy ships launched from territory controlled by pro-Iranian rebels.

Initial assessments show the Houthi rebel-controlled sites were destroyed, according to a statement from Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook.

The USS Nitze launched Tomahawk missiles at targets north of the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, which lies between the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, defense officials said.

“These limited self-defense strikes were conducted to protect our personnel, our ships and our freedom of navigation in this important maritime passageway,” Cook said.

The strikes were authorized by President Barack Obama on the recommendations of Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The radar site strikes followed attacks launched Sunday and Wednesday against Navy ships. The destroyer USS Mason and the amphibious staging base USS Ponce were targeted Sunday while transiting international waters, according to earlier Pentagon statements. On Wednesday evening, a cruise missile was fired at the Mason, a destroyer, and the USS San Antonio, an amphibious transport dock ship, Pentagon officials said.

On Oct. 1, a missile heavily damaged the HSV-2 Swift, a former Navy high-speed vessel operated by the United Arab Emirates, according to reports and photos released by the Emirati government.

The Houthis claimed responsibility for the attack on the Emirati ship but denied responsibility for attacking the U.S. Navy, according to the Washington Post. However, Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said Tuesday that “the facts certainly point” to Houthi involvement in the attacks on USS Mason and USS Ponce.

The Bab el-Mandeb Strait and the Red Sea form part of a critical commercial passageway for oilers and other commercial traffic transiting through the Suez Canal.

“The United States will respond to any further threat to our ships and commercial traffic, as appropriate, and will continue to maintain our freedom of navigation in the Red Sea, the Bab al-Mandeb, and elsewhere around the world,” Cook said.

Stars and Stripes reporters Tara Copp and Chris Church contributed to this report.

Twitter: @eslavin_stripes


The USS Nitze takes part in an anti-submarine formation exercise on Aug. 28, 2016, while operating in the Persian Gulf. The guided-missile destroyer launched Tomahawk missiles at targets in Yemen on Oct. 13.

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