US Navy saves Central Park from pirate attack in Gulf of Aden

US Navy saves Central Park from pirate attack in Gulf of Aden

The US Navy intervened on Sunday to prevent the hijacking of a commercial cargo ship by pirates in the Gulf of Aden near Somalia, after which two ballistic missiles were fired from Yemen at the responding Navy destroyer to the incident, the United States said. military said.

The ballistic missiles were fired from the part of Yemen controlled by Iran-backed Houthi rebels, according to a statement released by US Central Command, which oversees US military operations in the region. If the missiles were supposed to hit the USS Mason, a Navy destroyer, they did not reach the goal: they landed in the Gulf of Aden, 10 nautical miles from the American ship.

The USS Mason and other ships in the U.S.-led anti-piracy task force operating off the coast of Somalia responded after the crew of the commercial ship, the Central Park, called for help . The Central Park crew reported they were under attack by an unknown entity, U.S. Central Command said.

When coalition ships arrived at Central Park, they demanded the ship’s release. Five armed people fled the ship and attempted to escape in the small boat they had used to attack the cargo ship. The USS Mason pursued the attackers and forced them to surrender, the statement said. Fox News reported the rescue earlier.

Later, at approximately 1:41 a.m. local time on Monday, more than 16 hours after the initial attack, two ballistic missiles were fired at the USS Mason, which was then “concluded its response” to the attack.

U.S. officials would not say who was responsible for the attack or whether the group of five was acting under orders from any state or group. But officials said they were investigating whether Iran was involved or whether it was an attack unrelated to regional tensions that have escalated since Hamas’ attack on Israel on Oct. 7. which prompted Israel to launch a war against the militant group in Gaza.

Houthi rebels, backed by Iran in Yemen’s war, last week attacked several commercial ships in the Red Sea – a body of water near the Gulf of Aden – including Central Park. The Houthis and other Iranian-backed groups, including Hezbollah in Lebanon, have increased their attacks against Israel since October 7.

Officials said it was unclear whether the attackers were the same group that tried to seize the ship earlier. While the Houthi rebels strike in the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, where Central Park was attacked, is far from their area of ​​operations. A U.S. official and a former Pentagon official said Iranian involvement in the operation was under investigation.

Zodiac Maritime, the London-based company that manages the ship, said the ship and crew were now safe, but provided few additional details. The ship’s crew issued a distress call on Sunday reporting that it was being attacked by pirates while crossing the Gulf of Aden, about 54 nautical miles from the Somali coast, according to Zodiac Maritime. Zodiac Maritime is led by Eyal Ofer, an Israeli-born shipping magnate.

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Eric D. Eilerman

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