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US Navy rescues Israeli-linked tanker under attack off coast of Yemen

Yemen's internationally recognized government blamed Iran-backed Houthi rebels for the incident.

Published: November 27, 2023 7:55am

Updated: November 27, 2023 8:55am

The U.S. Navy said it intervened to stop the hijacking of an Israeli-linked commercial ship that was under attack off the coast of Yemen, after which two ballistic missiles from Yemen were fired toward the responding Navy destroyer.

The USS Mason, alongside allied ships and associated aircraft from its counter-piracy task force, responded Sunday to a distress call that the Central Park, managed by Zodiac Maritime, sent out in the Gulf of Aden, U.S. Central Command said.

The U.S. and its allies arrived on the scene and demanded the vessel to be released, and armed individuals got off the ship and attempted to flee in their small boat. The Mason pursued the attackers and they eventually surrendered, and the Central Park's crew is safe.

However, early Monday morning local time, "two ballistic missiles were fired from Houthi controlled areas in Yemen toward the general location" of the Mason and the Central Park, the military said. The missiles landed about 11.5 miles from the ships, and neither of the vessels was damaged.

Yemen's internationally recognized government blamed Iran-backed Houthi rebels, located in the country's west, for the attack, according to The Associated Press.

"Maritime domain security is essential to regional stability," CENTCOM Cmdr. Gen. Michael Erik Kurilla said. "We will continue to work with allies and partners to ensure the safety and security of international shipping lanes."

The Central Park's owner, the U.K.-based Zodiac Maritime, is part of Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer’s Zodiac Group.

Attacks against Israel have been launched from Houthi-controlled territory in Yemen since Hamas' Oct. 7 terrorist attack on Israel.  

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