The U.S. Navy has sent three warships off the coast of Yemen after a UAE Navy-operated vessel was hit by missiles fired by Yemen’s Houthi fighters in the Bab al-Mandab strait on Saturday.
According to a report by Fox News, guided-missile destroyers USS Mason and USS Nitze were dispatched together with the forward-deployed Austin-class amphibious transport dock USS Ponce.
Iran-backed Houthi fighters in Yemen assumed responsibility for an attack that almost sank HSV 2, a vessel formerly operated by the U.S. Navy.
A video which purportedly showed the attack started circulating on the internet shortly thereafter.
Initial reports said the missile used was a Chinese C-802 anti-ship missile. Other reports indicate that multiple anti-tank missiles might have been used in the incident.
U.S. Navy officials said the Houthis were supplied with shoulder-fired rockets that nearly destroyed the UAE Navy ship, according to the Fox News report.
The UAE military on Saturday confirmed that one of its vessels was involved in an ‘incident’ and added that none of the crew had been hurt while omitting information on whether the vessel sank or not.
However, there are now claims that dozens of people on board were killed, including members of the Emirati royal family. Any of the reports are still to be confirmed.
According to Press TV, the Yemeni Navy warned Saudi Arabia and all members of the Arab military coalition not to deploy ships to Yemeni territorial waters as they would be targeted by missile fire.
The attacked HSW 2 Swift was built by Australian shipbuilder Incat Crowther and leased to the U.S Navy. It was operated by Military Sealift Command from 2003 to 2013 and later transferred to UAE.