Military officials said the US Navy sank three small boats, killing their crew.
US Navy helicopters fired on and sank three small boats carrying Houthi militants in the Red Sea on Sunday, military officials said, after US warships responded to a distress call from a commercial ship.
The Singapore-flagged container ship Maersk, Hangzhou, issued a distress call at around 6:30 a.m. local time, US Central Command said in a statement. statement Sunday. The merchant ship said four small boats were attacking it.
The Central Command said: “Small boats, coming from Houthi-controlled areas in Yemen, opened fire on service crew members and small arms towards the Maersk Hangzhou, reached within 20 meters of the ship, and attempted to board the ship.”
US officials said helicopters from two US ships – USS Eisenhower and USS Gravely – responded and issued verbal calls to the small boats.
Central Command said that while the helicopters were “issuing verbal calls to the small boats, the small boats opened fire on the American helicopters whose crews were carrying weapons and small arms.”
U.S. officials said service members aboard Navy helicopters returned fire and sank three of the four small boats, killing the crew members. The fourth boat fled the area.
US Navy officials said Sunday's incident was the second time in 24 hours that Hangzhou had issued a distress call.
The ship was traveling on Saturday evening about 55 nautical miles southwest of Hodeidah, Yemen, when it collided with an unidentified object, a Maersk spokesperson told ABC News.
The 14,000-container ship then continued north, heading toward its destination at Port Suez, Egypt.
“Maersk can also confirm that after the initial attack on the vessel, four boats approached it and opened fire in a suspected attempt to board the vessel,” Maersk spokesman Adhesh Alwani said.
He added that Maersk has postponed all transit operations through the region for the next 48 hours, while the incident is investigated.
“Travel specialist. Typical social media scholar. Friend of animals everywhere. Freelance zombie ninja. Twitter buff.”