Houthis escalate Red Sea attacks; target Singapore-flagged commercial vessel

The Pentagon says U.S. Navy ships on patrol in the Red Sea on Friday conducted a 'self-defense' strike against two truck-mounted anti-ship missiles in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen. Photo courtesy U.S. Central Command/X

March 9 (UPI) -- Houthis rebels in Yemen claimed on Saturday to have attacked a Singapore-flagged commercial vessel and U.S. Navy ships in the Red Sea as their assaults against maritime traffic escalated.

The Houthis fired "several suitable naval missiles" against the M/V Propel Fortune as well as launching 37 drones targeting several U.S. Navy destroyers in a separate action, Houthi spokesman Yahya Saree said in a statement.

The U.S. Central Command confirmed the rebels fired two anti-ship ballistic missiles at the Propel Fortune but did not strike the ship, while adding in a update that its forces launched defensive strikes against two truck-mounted anti-ship missiles in Houthi-controlled territories in Yemen.

The Propel Fortune is a Singapore-flagged vessel that is owned and operated by Singapore entities. It was located about 50 nautical miles southeast of Aden when attacked.

It was built in Japan in 2012 and formerly was a U.S.-flagged vessel named Trans Oceanic before its recent transfer to the current owner and operator in Singapore.

The attacks were done in separate operations by the Houthi militants and "successfully achieved their goals," Saree said, adding that the drones "successfully hit" targeted U.S. Navy destroyers.

Later on Saturday CENTCOM announced it had shot down a total of 28 Houthi drones during a "large-scale attack" launched by the Houthis against targets in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden from 4 a.m. to 8:20 a.m. Sanaa time Friday.

The Houthi attacks on commercial and military vessels are in support of Hamas in Gaza and will continue, Saree said during a weekly rally held Friday in Sanaa, Yemen.

The attacks are escalating, and more than 100 have been reported targeting commercial and naval shipping in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, The Maritime Executive reported.