Ship Comes Under Attack Off Coast of Yemen as Houthi Rebel Campaign Appears to Gain New Speed

JERUSALEM (AP) -- A ship traveling in the Gulf of Aden came under attack Thursday, officials said, the latest assault likely carried out by Yemen's Houthi rebels over Israel's ongoing war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

The attack comes after the U.S. military said early Thursday an allied warship shot down a Houthi missile targeting a vessel the day before near the same area. The Houthis claimed that Wednesday assault, which comes after a period of relatively few rebel attacks on shipping in the region over Israel's ongoing war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

In Thursday's attack, a ship was targeted just over 25 kilometers (15 miles) southwest of Aden, the British military's United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations center said.

The captain "reports a loud bang heard and a splash and smoke seen coming from the sea," the UKMTO said. "Vessel and all crew are safe."

The attack was also reported by the private security firm Ambrey.

The Houthis did not immediately claim the attack, though it typically takes them hours to acknowledge an assault. European Union forces separately shot down a drone launched from Houthi territory on Thursday, Gen. Robert Brieger said.

The Houthis have launched more than 50 attacks on shipping, seized one vessel and sank another since November, according to the U.S. Maritime Administration.

Houthi attacks have dropped in recent weeks as the rebels have been targeted by a U.S.-led airstrike campaign in Yemen and shipping through the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden has declined because of the threat. American officials have speculated that the rebels may be running out of weapons as a result of the U.S.-led campaign against them and firing off drones and missiles steadily in the last months.

However, Wednesday's attack was the first one by rebels in some time. An explosion struck some 130 kilometers (80 miles) southeast of Djibouti in the Gulf of Aden, the UKMTO said.

Early Thursday, the U.S. military's Central Command said the explosion came from a coalition warship shooting down the missile likely targeting the MV Yorktown, a U.S.-flagged, owned and operated vessel with 18 U.S. and four Greek crew members.

"There were no injuries or damage reported by U.S., coalition or commercial ships," Central Command said.

Brig. Gen. Yahya Saree, a Houthi military spokesman, claimed the attack but insisted without evidence that the missile hit the Yorktown. Saree also claimed the Houthis targeted another ship in the Indian Ocean, without providing proof. The Houthis have made repeated claims that turned out to not be true during their yearslong war in Yemen.

The Houthis have said they will continue their attacks until Israel ends its war in Gaza, which has killed more than 34,000 Palestinians there. The war began after Hamas-led militants attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people and taking some 250 others hostage.

Most of the ships targeted by the Houthis have had little or no direct connection to Israel, the U.S. or other nations involved in the war. The rebels have also fired missiles toward Israel, though they have largely fallen short or been intercepted.