U.S. forces struck down 10 Houthi-backed drones, as well as a ground control station, after the USS Carney shot down three unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). Defensive strikes in the Red Sea continued through the day and into the early morning hours of February 2.
According to a CENTCOM press release, after another UAV was detected and shot down, U.S. forces detected an Iranian-backed Houthi explosive unmanned surface vehicle (USV) in transit to international shipping lanes in the Red Sea. The USV was destroyed, resulting in “significant secondary explosions,” although no injuries or damage were reported. Earlier in January, a Houthi-launched USV was detonated within miles of U.S. Navy and commercial ships. This instance marked the first use of USV attacks by the Houthis in the Red Sea.
Following the detonation, Houthi forces launched two anti-ship ballistic missiles at Bermuda-owned cargo ship M/V Koi. The missiles landed in the water prior to reaching the target, resulting in no damage or injuries. The Koi is operated by Oceonix Services, who also manage the Marlin Luanda, which was struck by a Houthi missile on January 27 in the Gulf of Aden. The ship suffered a fire in one of the cargo holds as a result of the attack. Onboard fire-fighting equipment was utilized to extinguish the fire, allowing the ship and crew to dock safely.
According to AP News, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin stated his belief that it was time for more stringent measures to be taken against Iran-backed militias attacking ships in the Red Sea.
In addition to retaliatory strikes to deter further Houthi attacks in the Red Sea, the U.S. issued sanctions against several Houthi leaders on January 25. Houthi Defense Minister Mohamed Nasser al-Atifi; Houthi Naval Forces Commander Muhammad Fadl Abd al-Nabi; coastal defense forces Chief Muhammad Ali al-Qadiri and Muhammad Ahmad al-Talibi were blocked from any U.S. holdings, including business, property, and bank accounts.
Forty-four allied countries and nations joined the U.S., U.K., and Secretary General of NATO in signing a joint statement condemning the Houthi attacks in December 2023. On January 16, the Biden administration officially re-designated the Houthis as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) entity.