U.S. and UK Forces Carry Out Fourth Large-Scale Strike on Houthi Rebels

Crew of the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower launch an FA-18 fighter, Feb. 24 (USN)
Crew of the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower launch an FA-18 fighter, Feb. 24 (USN)

Published Feb 25, 2024 2:21 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Saturday night, U.S. and British forces carried out a large-scale round of airstrikes on Houthi positions in Yemen, hoping to degrade the group's anti-ship capabilities. The Houthis' ability to launch missile and drone attacks has so far proven resilient to interdiction, despite dozens of allied strikes on infrastructure and equipment on the ground. 

At about 2350 hours local time, U.S. and British forces launched an attack on 18 separate targets in Houth-controlled areas of Yemen. 

According to U.S. Central Command, the list of targets included Houthi underground weapons storage facilities, suicide drones, air defense systems, radars and one helicopter.

"In recent days, we have seen severe Houthi attacks against commercial ships . . . including against the British-owned MV Islander and MV Rubymar," said UK Defense Secretary Grant Shapps in a statement. "We acted alongside our allies to further degrade Houthi drones and launchers used to mount their dangerous attacks." 

As in previous rounds, the strikes had diplomatic support from Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, and New Zealand. U.S. Central Command emphasized that the military operation was separate from Operation Prosperity Guardian, an air-defense and policing mission with an overlapping set of partners.

Earlier Saturday evening, Houthi forces launched a single ballistic missile over the Gulf of Aden. The likely target was a U.S.-flag vessel, the tanker Torm Thor, according to U.S. forces. The USS Mason shot the projectile down before it could cause any harm, and no damage or injuries were reported. Torm Thor is part of the newly-founded Tanker Security Program, a U.S.-flag incentive program created by Congress and overseen by the Maritime Administration. 

As of Sunday, Torm Thor was moored at a petroleum jetty at the port of Djibouti, according to AIS data provided by Pole Star. 

The Iranian spy ship Behshad, which had been anchored a few miles northwest of the same jetty in Djibouti, has returned to station in the Gulf of Aden. The Behshad is believed to play a key role in Houthi target identification and tracking, and its movements have often aligned with the pattern of Houthi attacks.