Washington, Dec 4 (IANS): The US Central Command (CENTCOM) said that an American warship shot down three drones fired from Yemen after three commercial vessels came under attack in the Red Sea.
In a statement, the CENTCOM said that three separate commercial vessels connected to 14 separate nations operating in international waters in the southern Red Sea were attacked on Sunday.
"The Arleigh-Burke Class destroyer USS Carney responded to the distress calls from the ships and provided assistance," it said.
The CENTCOM said that at about 9.15 a.m., the warship detected an anti-ship ballistic missile attack fired from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen toward the M/V Unity Explorer, impacting in the vicinity of the vessel.
The Unity Explorer is a Bahamas flagged, UK owned and operated, bulk cargo ship.
According to the Central Command, the US warship was conducting a patrol in the Red Sea when it detected the attack on the Unity Explorer.
In the second attack at 12 noon, the USS Carney engaged and shot down a UAV launched from Houthi controlled areas in Yemen.
"The drone was headed toward Carneyalthough its specific target is not clear. We cannot assess at this time whether the Carney was a target of the UAVs. There was no damage to the US vessel or injuries to personnel," the CENTCOM statement said.
In the third attack at 12.35 p.m., the Unity Explorer again reported they were struck by another missile, following which the warship responded.
"While assisting with the damage assessment, Carney detected another inbound UAV, destroying the drone with no damage or injuries on the Carney or Unity Explorer. The Unity Explorer reported minor damage from the missile strike."
In the fourth attack at 3.30 p.m. the M/V Number 9 was struck by a missile while operating international shipping lanes in the Red Sea.
The Panamanian flagged, Bermuda and UK owned and operated, bulk carrier reported damage and no casualties.
At 4.30 p.m., the M/V Sophie II, sent a distress call stating they were struck by a missile, to which the US warship again responded and reported no significant damage, said the CENTCOM.
"While en route to render support, CARNEY shot down a UAV headed in its direction. Sophie II is a Panamanian flagged bulk carrier, crewed by sailors from eight countries."
The CENTCOM said that "these attacks represent a direct threat to international commerce and maritime security".
"They have jeopardised the lives of international crews representing multiple countries around the world. We also have every reason to believe that these attacks, while launched by the Houthis in Yemen, are fully enabled by Iran.
"The US will consider all appropriate responses in full coordination with its international allies and partners," it added.