A U.S. Navy destroyer and 15 fighter jets recently fended off a series of attacks by Iran-backed Houthi rebels in the Red Sea.
During a 10-hour firing barrage, the U.S. Navy and multiple F/A-18 Super Hornet fighters thwarted 17 Houthi attacks over the southern Red Sea.
Although the U.S. military has kept the specifics of the attacks mostly hidden, it has been reported that the Arleigh Burke-class Aegis destroyer USS Laboon, associated with the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower carrier strike group (CSG), along with fighter jets from the Eisenhower carrier fended off Houthi attacks by shooting down 12 attack drones and air and land missiles.
The Houthis’ attacks were unable to directly hit the U.S. destroyer or the fighter jets. The engagement lasted 10 hours, beginning at 6:30 a.m. on Dec. 26, 2023.
Considering the lack of details on the incident in the Red Sea, it is inferred that the attacks began on the Liberian-flagged container ship MSC United V111.
— Sal Mercogliano (WGOW Shipping) 🚢⚓🐪🚒🏴☠️ (@mercoglianos) December 26, 2023
The location of the Eisenhower CSG reveals that the U.S. Navy is striving toward the Bab el-Mandeb Strait to provide coverage for maritime traffic and the presence of the fighter jets indicates the protection of the region as well as of the U.S. destroyers, signaling that President Joe Biden’s “Operation Prosperity Guardian” may already be in effect.
On Dec. 18, 2023, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced a new international task force to prevent the Houthis’ attacks.
“This is an international challenge that demands collective action,” Austin said in a statement in Bahrain.
“Therefore today I am announcing the establishment of Operation Prosperity Guardian, an important new multinational security initiative under the umbrella of the Combined Maritime Forces and the leadership of its Task Force 153, which focuses on security in the Red Sea,” the defense secretary added.
Nations associated with Operation Prosperity Guardian include the U.S., the U.K., Bahrain, Canada, France, Italy, Norway, the Netherlands, Seychelles and Spain. Such an international effort was established “to jointly address security challenges in the southern Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden,” according to Austin’s statement.
The Red Sea is a vital trading port for all nations, considering that the area is responsible for 10-15% of worldwide trade, 8% of international grain trade, and 12% of global seaborne oil trade.