June 2024: most US naval combat since WWII

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Iran-backed Houthi militants in Yemen struck multiple civilian cargo vessels in the Red Sea in June, sinking one and prompting the Navy to rescue mariners from the stricken vessels. All told, June was a hectic month for the sea service, which has not seen this much sustained combat since World War II, Navy Times reports.

Among the month’s incidents, sailors assigned to the Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group rescued two dozen civilian mariners from the Liberian-flagged, Greek-owned bulk cargo carrier M/V Tutor, which was struck by a Houthi surface drone on June 12 in the southern Red Sea. That attack caused severe flooding and damage to the commercial ship’s engine room. One mariner on board reportedly died, and the bulk carrier later sank, according to The Associated Press, the second ship to do so amid the rebel group’s months-long crusade on vessels in the region.

The Navy also medically evacuated a severely injured civilian mariner from another commercial vessel, the Palauan-flagged, Ukrainian-owned M/V Verbena, which was sailing in the Gulf of Aden and struck by the Houthis. The crew later abandoned the ship due to continued fires and an inability to control them.

As the Houthis struck more commercial ships in June, the Iran-backed group appears to show little sign of slowing down its campaign of assaults, which began in the fall.

As of publishing time, U.S. and coalition forces destroyed, or tracked the firing, or the intent to launch, of at least 14 Houthi anti-ship ballistic missiles, 38 air drones, and 19 surface drones in June that the Houthis launched or were prepared to use, according to a tally of incidents announced by U.S. Central Command, as well as reporting by Military Times and The Associated Press.

“This continued reckless behavior by Iranian-backed Houthis threatens regional stability and endangers the lives of mariners across the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden,” Sabrina Singh, the deputy Pentagon press secretary, said during a news conference. “The Houthis claim to be acting on behalf of Palestinians in Gaza, and yet, they are threatening the lives of those who have nothing to do with the conflict. The ongoing threat to the ability to safely transit the region caused by the Houthis makes it harder to deliver commercial goods and critical assistance to the people of Yemen, as well as those in Gaza.”

At least 29 major energy and shipping companies have altered their routes to avoid Houthi attacks and least 65 countries’ interests have been impacted, the report stated.

Meanwhile, the Department of the Treasury sanctioned a slew of individuals and companies connected to the Houthis in an effort to hinder the group’s funding networks.

“Houthi attacks continue to hinder vital humanitarian assistance from reaching Yemenis and pose dire risks to economic and humanitarian conditions in countries across the Red Sea region and to the broader global economy,” Department of State spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a release.

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