The US destroyer USS Mason responds to a distress call from an Israeli-linked commercial oil tanker in the Gulf of Aden.
The US military has captured five attackers who seized an Israel-linked cargo ship in the Gulf of Aden amid missile attacks from Houthi-controlled Yemen.
The destroyer USS Mason responded Sunday to an SOS call from a commercial oil tanker that had been taken over by armed attackers in the Gulf, according to U.S. Central Command. announcement.
The Liberian-flagged tanker, which was carrying phosphoric acid, was identified as the Central Park by the ship’s company. The vessel is managed by Zodiac Maritime Ltd, a London-based international ship management company owned by the Israeli Ofer family.
The US military said the USS Mason, with the help of allied ships, demanded that the commercial vessel be freed by the attackers.
“Subsequently, five armed individuals disembarked from the ship and attempted to flee via their small boat,” US Central Command said in a statement. “The mason pursued the attackers, which ultimately resulted in their surrender.”
The statement added that two ballistic missiles were fired from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen in the general direction of Mason and Central Park, but landed approximately 10 nautical miles from the ships, causing no damage or injuries.
On 26 November, USS MASON (DDG 87), along with allied ships from our Coalition Anti-Piracy Task Force (TF 151), and associated aircraft responded to a distress call from M/V CENTRAL PARK , a commercial ship, which they were attacked by an unknown entity. At the arrival,… pic.twitter.com/ASmM3b0xrf
– US Central Command (@CENTCOM) November 27, 2023
The Yemeni government in Aden blamed the attack on Iran-backed Houthi rebels. However, the rebels, who control the capital, Sanaa, have acknowledged neither the seizure nor the missile attack.
Problems at sea
The incident is the latest in a series of attacks in Middle East waters since the outbreak of war in Gaza on October 7.
This follows the seizure of an Israel-linked cargo ship by Houthi forces in the southern Red Sea last week.
The Houthis, who have also fired ballistic missiles and armed drones at Israel, have vowed to target more Israeli ships.
Zodiac Maritime said in a statement that Central Park was involved in a suspected piracy incident while passing through international waters, approximately 54 nautical miles off the coast of Somalia.
“Our priority is the safety of our 22 crew members on board. The Turkish-captained vessel has a multinational crew consisting of Russian, Vietnamese, Bulgarian, Indian, Georgian and Filipino nationals,” the statement added.
Zodiac Maritime also thanked “coalition forces who responded quickly, protecting assets in the area and upholding international maritime law.”
Britain’s Maritime Trade Operations Agency (UKMTO) said on Sunday it was aware of a possible attack southwest of Aden and urged other vessels to exercise caution.
The United States has accused Iran of unclaimed attacks on several ships in the region in recent years. Tehran has denied any involvement.
A container ship run by an Israeli-controlled company was hit by a suspected Iranian drone in the Indian Ocean, causing minor damage to the vessel but no injuries, a U.S. defense official said Saturday.