Likely Yemen Houthi rebel attack targets ship in Gulf of Aden

A commercial ship traveling through the Gulf of Aden saw explosions near the vessel, authorities said Saturday, likely the latest attack by Yemen’s Houthi rebels attempting to target the shipping lane.

The apparent fire by the Houthis comes after the sinking this week of the ship Tutor, which marked what appears to be a new escalation by the Iranian-backed Houthis in their campaign of attacks on ships in the vital maritime corridor over the Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza Strip.

Meanwhile, U.S. officials reportedly ordered the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, the aircraft carrier leading America’s response to the Houthi attacks, to return home.

The captain of the ship targeted late Friday saw “explosions in the vicinity of the vessel,” the British military’s United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations center said.

“The crew are reported safe and the vessel is proceeding to its next port of call,” the UKMTO said, without elaborating on whether the ship sustained any damage.

The Houthis, who have held Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, since 2014, did not immediately claim the attack. However, it can take the rebels hours or even days to acknowledge their assaults.

The Houthis on Friday released footage of one of their drone boats, the “Tufan,” or “Flood,” which they said targeted the Tutor.

The Houthis have launched more than 60 attacks targeting specific vessels and fired off other missiles and drones in their campaign that has killed a total of four sailors. They have seized one vessel and sunk two since November. A U.S.-led airstrike campaign has targeted the Houthis since January, with a series of strikes May 30 killing at least 16 people and wounding 42 others, the rebels say.

In March, the Belize-flagged Rubymar carrying fertilizer became the first to sink in the Red Sea after taking on water for days following a rebel attack.

The Houthis have maintained that their attacks target ships linked to Israel, the United States or Britain. However, many of the ships attacked have little or no connection to the Israel-Hamas war.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Naval Institute’s news service reported, citing an anonymous official, that the Eisenhower would be returning home to Norfolk, Virginia, after an over eight-month deployment in combat that the Navy says is its most intense since World War II. The report said an aircraft carrier operating in the Pacific would be taking the Eisenhower’s place.

The closest American aircraft carrier known to be operating in Asia is the USS Theodore Roosevelt.

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