A United States warship engaged and destroyed three Houthi drones that were threatening commercial vessels in the Red Sea.

Three commercial vessels were attacked in the Red Sea on Sunday, prompting a U.S. warship to shoot down multiple unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) headed toward them.

The development could signify a serious escalation in a series of maritime attacks in the Middle East linked to the Israel-Hamas war.

“In the southern Red Sea, four attacks were launched against threee commercial vessels sailing in international waters, according to a statement by U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM). The vessels are registered under the flags of 14 different countries.”

The USS Carney was in the southern Red Sea, just north of the Bab al-Mandab Strait, when it shot down three Houthi drones heading in its direction, a U.S. official told Fox News, adding that the action was taken in self-defense. The drones were launched from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen, the official claimed.

The USS Carney identified an incoming threat of Houthi ballistic missiles targeting the Unity Explorer, a British-owned ship. The USS Carney quickly intercepted and destroyed the first Houthi drone heading towards the vessel, preventing any harm to the crew or damage to the ship.

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USS Carney is an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer that has been shooting down drones and cruise missiles in recent weeks launched by Iran-backed Houthi rebels, who claimed credit for SUnday’s attack.

Following the initial occurrence on Sunday, the Unity Explorer was subsequently struck later that day by a second UAV, resulting in minimal damage. The USS Carney successfully intercepted and neutralized another UAV that was approaching the vessel.

In the afternoon, two additional ships called Number 9 and Sophie II were hit by missiles. The USS Carney successfully intercepted and destroyed an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that was on its way towards Sophie II.

“These attacks represent a direct threat to international commerce and maritime security. They have jeopardized the lives of international crews representing multiple countries around the world,” CENTCOM said. “We also have eveyr reason to believe that theese attacks, while launched by the Houthis in Yemen, are fully enabled by Iran.”

“The United States will consider all appropriate responses in full coordination with its international allies and partners,” the press release concluded.

Earlier on Sunday, a White House official clarified to Fox News that the American destroyer specifically did not come under attack in the Red Sea, but that the USS Carney responded to their distress calls.

There are no injuries to any of the crew members on the commercial vessels, which represent multiple nations, meaning the crews are from one country, while the ships are owned by another country and flagged by another, according to the official.

The British military earlier said there had been a suspected drone attack and explosions in the Red Sea, without elaborating.

Houthi military spokesman Brig. Gen. Yahya Saree claimed the attacks, saying the first vessel was hit by a missile and the second by a drone while in the Bab el-Mandeb Strait that links the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden. He described the ships as allegedly ignoring warnings from Houthi officials prior to the attack.

Saree did not mention any U.S. warship being involved in the attack, according to the AP.

“The Yemeni armed forces continue to prevent Israeli ships from navigating the Red Sea (and Gulf of Aden) until the Israeli aggression against our steadfast brothers in the Gaza Strip stops,” Saree said. “The Yemeni armed forces renew their warning to all Israeli ships or those asociated with Israelis that they will become a legitimate target if they violate what is stated in this statement.”

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