WASHINGTON, Oct 9 (Reuters) – A U.S. Navy guided missile destroyer was targeted on Sunday in a failed missile attack from territory in Yemen controlled by Iran-aligned Houthi rebels, a U.S. military spokesman told Reuters, saying neither of the two missiles hit the ship.
The attempted strike on the USS Mason, which was first reported by Reuters, came just a week after a United Arab Emirates vessel came under attack from Houthis and suggests growing risks to the U.S. military from Yemen’s conflict.
A U.S. defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the first missile triggered counter-measures from the USS Mason. It was not immediately clear whether those defenses may have helped prevent a direct hit on the ship.
The USS Mason did not return fire, the official said, adding that the incident took place just north of the Bab al-Mandab strait off Yemen’s southern coast.
Last week’s attack on the UAE vessel also took place around the Bab al-Mandab strait, in what the UAE branded an “act of terrorism.”
In 2013, more than 3.4 million barrels of oil passed through the 20 km (12 mile)-wide Bab al-Mandab each day, the U.S. Energy Information Administration says.
“We will continue to take all necessary steps to ensure the safety of our ships and our service members,” he said.
The attack also came the same day that Yemen’s powerful former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, a key Houthi ally, called for an escalation of attacks against Saudi Arabia, demanding “battle readiness at the fronts on the (Saudi) border.”
An estimated 10,000 people have been killed in Yemen’s war. The United Nations blames Saudi-led coalition strikes for 60 percent of some 3,800 civilian deaths since they began in March 2015.