A US Navy destroyer and several F/A-18 Super Hornet fighters shot down a total of 17 Houthi drones and missiles during a tense 10-hour engagement over the southern Red Sea.
Details of the engagement are sparse, but the Arleigh Burke-class Aegis destroyer USS Laboon (DDG-58), a member of the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower carrier strike group (CSG), as well as several F/A-18 launched from the Eisenhower shot down 12 attack drones, three-antiship missiles and two land attack missiles. The engagement began at 6:30 a.m. local time Tuesday and continued for 10 hours. None of the attacking weapons hit a target.
This is the general location of the engagement. The USS Laboon is the blue dot to the left of the USNS Supply icon…next to the two Iranian ships.
The Navy is not giving details, but from other sources, we can infer that the incident started with an attack on the Liberian-flagged, Swiss-owned container ship MSC United VIII.
We also know that the MSC Cargo line was running two container ships through the same general area during part of the engagement.
No solid inferences can be drawn from the two land attack missile intercepts as the Houthi. They could have been fired toward Israel, but more likely, they targeted shipping, as has been the case several times in the last month.
The general location of the Eisenhower CSG indicates they are pushing up into the Bab el-Maneb Strait to provide coverage for maritime traffic at this chokepoint. The presence of the F/A-18 indicates a combat air patrol covering the Bab el-Maneb strait as well as destroyers of the CSG. All of this indicates that Biden’s “Operation Prosperity Guardian” may be taking shape as a US-only affair.
While we must acknowledge this engagement’s success, it is not sustainable. The Eisenhower CSG is not playing the game to win; they are playing to not lose. They are like the team sitting on a one-point lead at halftime and trying to run out the clock. The Eisenhower must be successful 100 percent of the time; the Houthis only need to occasionally have a missile or drone leak through to achieve their mission.