Houthi missile came so close to US destroyer that warship had to resort to last resort cannon system to shoot it down: report


  • A Houthi missile put a US destroyer’s close-in weapon system to the test during a recent engagement.

  • A warship’s CIWS is generally considered its last line of defense and is intended for short-range interceptions.

  • Tuesday’s incident marks the latest Houthi missile attack, but not the last exchange of fire.

A Houthi anti-ship cruise missile fired into the Red Sea came within a mile of a U.S. Navy destroyer on Tuesday, close enough that the American warship had to turn to its weapons system close together – a last line of defense.

Most missiles are shot down further away. This is the closest attack on a US warship by the Houthis, four US officials told CNN, which reported additional details about the incident Wednesday.

US Central Command, or CENTCOM, initially said On Tuesday, around 11:30 p.m. local time, the Houthis fired a single anti-ship cruise missile from Yemen towards the Red Sea and it was shot down by the USS Gravely.

No damage or injuries were reported. CENTCOM declined Business Insider’s request for additional information on Tuesday’s missile shootdown.

For several months, Iran-backed rebels have relentlessly fired one-way attack drones and missiles into key waterways off Yemen’s coast. Many of these threats have been shot down by U.S. warships – and sometimes by British or French forces – although some munitions have hit commercial ships transiting the region. No warships were hit.

A photo of an American guided missile destroyer USS Gravely in the ocean.A photo of an American guided missile destroyer USS Gravely in the ocean.

The U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Gravely transits during a passage exercise off the coast of Greenland.Petty Officer 2nd Class Jessica Dowell/DVIDS

A warship’s CIWS consists of two short-range automatic machine guns that can fire up to 4,500 rounds per minute but have a range of only up to two nautical miles.

Before a ship’s CIWS is engaged, the warship’s SM-2 or SM-3 interceptors come into play. These are fired from cells of a vertical launch system before intercepting and destroy aerial threats. An SM-3 “hits threats with the force of a 10-ton truck traveling at 600 mph,” according to Raytheonthe manufacturer of the weapon.

Warships can also use a ball mechanism which disrupted the radar of a missile.

The incident involving the USS Gravely occurred just hours before US forces blocked and destroyed a Houthi surface-to-air missile that was ready for launch in Yemen and “posed an imminent threat” to US aircraft in the area, the army said. said Wednesday.

Phalanx close-in weapons system fires aboard USS ChosinPhalanx close-in weapons system fires aboard USS Chosin

The MK 15 Phalanx close-in weapons system fires during a test aboard the guided-missile cruiser USS Chosin.U.S. Navy Fire Control Officer Second Class Andrew Albin

The United States has conducted several rounds of preemptive strikes this month, targeting Houthi missiles – primarily anti-ship capabilities – as rebels prepared to launch them, posing a threat to U.S. commercial ships and warships off the coast of Yemen.

In addition to these preventive actions, the United States and the United Kingdom have also carried out widespread strikes across Yemen, targeting Houthi sites such as missile launchers, weapons storage facilities, radars and air defense systems.

Western officials stressed that the strikes were a direct response to ongoing Houthi attacks on commercial ships transiting the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden – a key global trade route, and would continue unless the rebels continue their provocations.

“We are certainly taking aggressive action against the Houthis to try to defend shipping in the Red Sea,” White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said this week. He stressed, however, that the United States “is not at war” with Iran-backed rebels.

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