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After months of fighting the Houthis aboard the USS Eisenhower, sailors face a new maritime threat

Sailors aboard the USS Eisenhower and its accompanying warships spent four months at sea defending against ballistic missile and aerial attacks Drone launched by Iran-backed Houthi rebelsare also now more frequently defending against new threats – fast, unmanned ships firing at them through the water.

Although the Houthis have launched unmanned surface vessels (USVs) in the past against the Saudi coalition intervening in Yemen’s civil war, on January 4, they were used for the first time against U.S. warships and commercial ships in the Red Sea. In the weeks since, the Navy has had to intercept and destroy multiple unmanned surface craft.

Rear Adm. Mark Miggs, commander of the Second Aircraft Carrier Strike Group to which the Eisenhower belongs, said that this is “more like an unknown threat, we don’t have a lot of intelligence, this could be extremely lethal – an unmanned surface ship ”. The Houthis “have ways to obviously control them, just like they control (drones), and we have very little fidelity to all the inventory of unmanned aerial vehicles that they have,” Miggs said.

Yemen’s Houthis fire two missiles at cargo ship with final destination in Iranian port

On October 17, just days after the war between Israel and Hamas broke out, the Houthis began firing on U.S. warships and commercial vessels. and warships passing through the area until Israel ceases military operations in Gaza.

The Eisenhower has been patrolling here since November 4, and some of its accompanying ships have been in the area even longer since October.

During those months, Eisenhower’s fleet of fighter jets and reconnaissance aircraft worked non-stop to detect and intercept missiles and drones launched by the Houthis at ships in the Red Sea, Bab el-Mandeb Strait and the Gulf of Aden. /A-18 fighter jets are also frequently deployed to destroy missile emplacements they detect before firing their munitions.

On February 13, 2024, in the southern Red Sea, a sailor stood on the deck of the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower aircraft carrier (also known as the “IKE”). (AP Photo/Bernat Amange)

As of Wednesday, other U.S. Navy assets in the region, including the cruiser USS Philippine Sea, destroyers USS Mason and USS Graveley, and destroyers USS Rabb and USS Carney, had Conducted more than 95 interception drones, counter-drone and counter-drone attacks. – Ship ballistic missiles and anti-ship cruise missiles and produced more than 240 of them Self-defense strike On Wednesday, the strike team intercepted and destroyed seven more anti-ship cruise missiles and another explosive unmanned surface craft prepared to launch at ships in the Red Sea.

“We are constantly monitoring what the Iran-backed Houthis are doing, and when we identify military targets that threaten the capabilities of commercial vessels, we take action to protect those vessels and strike them with precision and violence,” Captain Ma said. Vin Scott, commander of the eight fighter squadrons of the aircraft carrier air wing.

But Miggs said the still-evolving threat from unmanned surface vehicles is concerning.

“This is one of the scariest scenarios, a pretty fast unmanned surface vessel carrying a bomb,” Miggs said. “If you don’t get there right away, things can get very bad very quickly.”

U.S. Central Command also reported Thursday that the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Clarence Sutfin Jr. boarded a Yemen-bound ship in the Arabian Sea on January 28 and seized ballistic missile components, unmanned aerial vehicle Surface craft components and military grade communications equipment.

Such speed means that these ships have been fighting at a constant combat speed for four consecutive months, with no rest days in port. The Eisenhower’s commanding officer, Capt. Christopher “Jorda” Hill, told The magazine that it was taking a toll on the sailors. AP on board the Eisenhower.

The ship keeps morale up by letting sailors know how important their jobs are and providing them with Wi-Fi so they can stay in touch with their families back home.

“One day I was walking through the chaos on the deck and I could hear babies crying because someone was having a conference call with a baby they hadn’t met yet,” Hill said. “That connection was really extraordinary.”

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Due to bandwidth limitations, the destroyer does not have a wireless network, making the crew’s job even more difficult.

Joselyn Martinez, Gunnery Mate 2nd Class on the USS Graveley, said there has been no contact with the family or family. in fighting stance It’s hard being at sea for so long, “but we have each other’s support here.”

Martinez said it’s “like an adrenaline rush” when a threat is detected and sirens sound, instructing crews to respond. “But at the end of the day, we’re just doing what we came here to do, you know, defend me.” crew and my ship.”

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