Saada, Yemen
31 December 2023

CENTCOM confirmed receiving a distress call from the Maersk Hangzhou which had been “under attack by four Iranian-backed Houthi small boats… In the process of issuing verbal calls to the small boats, the small boats fired upon the U.S. helicopters with crew served weapons and small arms. The U.S. Navy helicopters returned fire in self-defence, sinking three of the four small boats and killing the crews. The fourth boat fled the area. There was no damage to U.S. personnel or equipment”. The Houthis confirmed ten fatalities, warning that the U.S. “bears the consequences of this crime”. They further urged other “countries not to engage in the dangerous American behaviour, as it will have negative repercussions that may affect everyone”, while reiterating their intent to stop “the passage of all Israeli ships, or those heading to the ports of occupied Palestine”.

Subscribe to Crisis Group’s Email Updates

Receive the best source of conflict analysis right in your inbox.