British-owned ship hit by missile in the Red Sea as part of assault by Iranian-backed rebels

4 December 2023, 10:21 | Updated: 2 January 2024, 07:48

USS Carney intercepted multiple drones.
USS Carney intercepted multiple drones. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

A British-owned ship has been hit by a missile in the Red Sea as part of an assault by Iranian-backed rebels.

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The Bahamas-flagged Unity Explorer, which is owned by a British company, was one of three commercial vessels targeted in a drone and missile assault on Sunday, the US military said.

US military Central Command said the ship sustained minor damage in the attack.

Two other ships registered in Panama were also struck by missiles, with the Number 9 reporting some damage and the Sophie II suffering no significant damage, according to Central Command.

A military statement said guided-missile destroyer USS Carney shot down three drones in the attacks following calls for assistance.

Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen have claimed responsibility for the attack on the Unity Explorer.

Spokesperson Brigadier General Yahya Saree claimed the vessels were targeted after rejected warnings from its navy.

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US Central Command said the attacks represented a "direct threat" to maritime security and commerce.

"We also have every reason to believe that these attacks, while launched by the Houthis in Yemen, are fully enabled by Iran," it said.

The Houthis have been launching a series of attacks on ships in the Red Sea as well as launching drones and missiles targeting Israel in response to the war against Hamas.

Earlier in November, the Houthis seized a vehicle transport ship also linked to Israel in the Red Sea off Yemen.

Missiles landed near another US warship last week after it assisted a vessel linked to Israel.

The Ministry of Defence has been contacted for comment.

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