November 27, 2023 –A US Navy warship has captured armed men who seized an Israeli-linked tanker off the coast of Yemen on Sunday, US defence officials say.
The assailants attempted to escape on a boat but were chased by the US warship.
US Central Command reported that two missiles were then fired towards the warship from rebel Houthi-controlled territory in the country.
The Houthis have promised to target Israel over its war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
Israel launched its retaliatory campaign after the 7 October attack in southern Israel in which 1,200 people were killed and more than 240 taken hostage.
Since then, more than 14,500 people have been killed in the Gaza Strip, roughly 40% of them children, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.
The Houthis declare themselves part of an “axis of resistance” of Iran-affiliated groups.
The tanker attacked on Sunday was identified as the Central Park by the vessel’s company.
Central Park is managed by Zodiac Maritime Ltd, a London-headquartered international ship management company owned by Israel’s Ofer family.
Zodiac Maritime said that among the 22 crew were Russian, Vietnamese, Bulgarian, Indian, Georgian and Filipino nationals, as well as a Turkish captain.
The rebels are reported to have threatened to attack the tanker, which was carrying phosphoric acid, if it did not divert to a Yemeni port.
In a statement, the US military said the USS Mason, with help from allied ships, demanded that the commercial ship be released by the attackers.
Five armed individuals then tried to escape on a fast boat but were chased by the USS Mason and they eventually surrendered, the statement added.
Two missiles were then fired towards the warship but landed far from the vessel, the US said.
The incidents are the latest in a series of attacks undertaken by the Houthis.
They fired several missiles and drones towards Israel just after Israel launched its operation.
The US said at the time that all the missiles and drones were intercepted by its warship in the Red Sea.
Houthi rebels last week said they seized an Israeli cargo ship in the Red Sea. Israel said the ship was not Israeli, and no Israelis were among its crew.
The Houthis have been locked in a prolonged civil war with Yemen’s official government – backed by Saudi Arabia – since 2014.