Yemeni Rebel Missiles Target U.S. Navy Ship After It Foils Hijacking

Yemeni Rebel Missiles Target U.S. Navy Ship After It Foils Hijacking


The U.S. Navy captured a group of armed assailants who seized a tanker in the Gulf of Aden on Monday, disrupting the latest in a series of attacks on commercial shipping in the Red Sea and the adjoining gulf amid the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas.

All crew members onboard the Central Park, pictured, were safe, CENTCOM said.

Associated Press

Key Facts

According to the U.S. military’s Central Command (CENTCOM), the naval destroyer USS Mason carried out the counter-piracy mission after receiving a distress call from the MV Central Park tanker early Monday.

Five armed assailants, who had taken control of the tanker, attempted to flee the vessel after the U.S. Navy ship demanded they release the vessel and its crew.

CENTCOM said the U.S. Navy ship pursued the hijackers and forced them to surrender, and all crew members onboard the Central Park were safe.

Two ballistic missiles were later fired into the general location of the USS Mason from the Iran-backed Houthi rebel-controlled territory in Yemen, landing around 10 nautical miles from the ship.

The Central Park tanker, operated by Zodiac Maritime, was carrying a cargo of phosphoric acid with a multinational crew of 22 sailors onboard, the company said.


Zodiac Maritime is part of Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer’s Zodiac Group, although it is unclear if it was targeted by the assailants for this reason. According to our estimates, Ofer’s current net worth stands at $20.2 billion, making him the world’s 88th richest person.

Key Background

The failed hijack is the latest in a series of attacks against commercial ships in the Middle East amid the Israel-Hamas war. On Friday, the container ship CMA CGM Symi was attacked by a suspected Iranian drone. According to the Associated Press, the container is owned by Israeli billionaire Idan Ofer, Eyal’s younger brother. Last week, a cargo ship, Galaxy Leader, was seized by armed Houthi rebels in a dramatic helicopter-borne assault. The ship had no Israeli crew and the country’s government said it was British-owned and Japanese-operated. However, the Associated Press reported it was linked to Ray Car Carriers, founded by Israeli billionaire Rami Ungar—the country’s 21st richest person according to Forbes Israel. Both Israel and the United States blamed Iran for carrying out these attacks on commercial ships, an allegation Tehran has denied.

Further Reading

US Navy seizes attackers who held Israel-linked tanker. Missiles from rebel-controlled Yemen follow (Associated Press)

Two ships divert course away from Red Sea area after vessel seized by Houthis (Reuters)

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