Houthi Missile Hits US-Owned Cargo Ship in Gulf of Aden

The Houthis were previously not targeting American commercial shipping but that's changed since the US bombed Yemen

US Central Command said Monday that a Houthi anti-ship ballistic missile hit a US-owned cargo ship, an escalation that came a few days after the US and Britain bombed dozens of Houthi targets in Yemen.

The missile struck the Gibraltar Eagle, a Marshall Islands-flagged ship that’s owned by the US-based Eagle Bulk Shipping, while it was transiting the Gulf of Aden. CENTCOM said there were no casualties or damage reported.

Eagle Bulk said there was “limited damage” but that the ship was able to leave the area. “As a result of the impact, the vessel suffered limited damage to a cargo hold but is stable and is heading out of the area,” the company said.

The Houthis later took responsibility for the attack. “The naval forces of the Yemeni Armed Forces carried out a military operation targeting an American ship in the Gulf of Aden, with several appropriate naval missiles, resulting in precise and direct hits,” said Houthi military spokesman Yahya Sarea.

Map of the Gulf of Aden

Before Monday, the Houthis had not targeted US commercial shipping and said their attacks were limited to Israel-linked vessels. But that changed after the US and UK escalated the situation by bombing Yemen on Friday. After the strikes, a Houthi spokesman said that “all American-British interests have become legitimate targets.”

The Houthis, officially known as Ansar Allah, have made clear their attacks on Israel-linked shipping wouldn’t stop until the Israeli onslaught in Gaza ends. Instead of pressuring Israel to end the slaughter, President Biden opted for regional escalation. US officials acknowledged that the bombing did not harm the Houthis’ ability to launch offensive attacks.

The US and British airstrikes risk shattering the fragile truce between the US-backed Saudi-led coalition in Yemen and the Houthis, although Saudi Arabia has distanced itself from the anti-Houthi operations and is urging the US to show restraint.

The US-backed war on the Houthis killed 377,000 people between 2015 and 2022, according to the UN. More than half died of starvation and disease caused by the brutal siege, which involved a major bombing campaign and a blockade on Houthi-controlled Yemen, where about 70%-80% of Yemenis live.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of Antiwar.com, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.