a Houthi An anti-ship ballistic missile hit a US-owned and operated cargo ship on Monday, US Central Command said in a statement.
The attack on the Gibraltar Eagle appears to be the first time the Houthis have successfully struck a US-owned or operated ship, raising the stakes in the Red Sea after the US pledged that further Houthi launches would be met with a response.
This came just days after the US-led coalition carried out strikes against the Iran-backed rebel group in Yemen, and warned of the possibility of more strikes if Houthi attacks continue.
The M/V Gibraltar Eagle, a Marshall Islands-flagged bulk carrier owned and operated by US-based Eagle Bulk, sustained minor damage and no injuries were reported on board, Central Command said. The ship continues on its way.
A statement issued by Eagle Bulk Shipping on Monday confirmed that the Gibraltar Eagle, carrying a cargo of steel products, was hit by an “unidentified projectile” approximately 100 miles offshore in the Gulf of Aden.
The statement said: “As a result of the collision, the ship suffered limited damage to the cargo hold, but it is stable and heading out of the area.” “It has been confirmed that all sailors on board are unharmed.”
The UK Maritime Security Agency (UKMTO) said it had received a report about the incident.
Eagle Bulk Shipping said it was “in close contact with all relevant authorities.”
“Vessels are advised to transit with caution and report any suspicious activity to the UKMTO,” the Maritime Security Agency said.
The Houthis claimed responsibility for the attack, saying they fired a number of “direct” and “accurate” missiles.
In a video statement on Monday, Brig. The Houthi military spokesman, Brigadier General Yahya Saree, announced that the Yemeni group “carried out a military operation targeting an American ship in the Gulf of Aden with a nuclear aircraft.”
Saree added that the strikes were “accurate and direct.”
Following US-led strikes on Thursday against nearly 30 sites in Houthi-controlled territory in Yemen with more than 150 precision-guided munitions, the Biden administration said the United States would defend its assets and interests in the region. The United States tried to portray its strikes as an option of last resort after repeated warnings to the Houthis, saying it was trying to prevent further escalation.
“We will stand ready to defend ourselves and defend that shipment if it comes down to it,” John Kirby, strategic communications coordinator for the National Security Council, said on Friday.
The Houthis promised retaliation, saying any US or British assets would be a “legitimate target.” The Houthis have launched nearly 30 attacks on international shipping lanes since mid-November, forcing many of the world's largest shipping companies to avoid these attacks. The Red Sea, one of the most important waterways in the world.
Central Command said that earlier on Monday, the Houthis attempted to launch an anti-ship ballistic missile, but it failed and crashed in Yemen.
UK-based maritime security group Ambrey said three missiles were fired towards the Red Sea on Monday. The group said that two of the three missiles did not reach the sea, while the third hit a ship owned and operated by the United States.
Thursday, The US and UK struck 28 separate Houthi sitesIn an attempt to disrupt the group's ability to fire on international shipping lanes in the Red Sea. The two countries also received the support of Canada, Australia, Bahrain and the Netherlands.
A US official said that the United States carried out additional strikes on Friday night that were much smaller in size and targeted a radar facility used by the Houthis.
Saree said on Friday that they will continue their aggression against commercial ships in the Red Sea.
CNN's Iyad Kurdi and Niamh Kennedy contributed reporting.
This story has been updated with additional information.
“Travel specialist. Typical social media scholar. Friend of animals everywhere. Freelance zombie ninja. Twitter buff.”