Photo Credit: US Navy Photo / MCS 2nd Class Rob Aylward / Public Domain
USS Mason during a search and rescue exercise in the Mediterranean Sea, Oct. 29, 2013. The vessel was part of the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group.

US forces and allies rescued the Israeli-owned MV Central Park chemical tanker on Sunday as it was being hijacked off the Red Sea coast of Yemen by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels.

The vessel, carrying a cargo of phosphoric acid, is owned by the UK-based Zodiac Maritime group headed by Israeli business mogul Eyal Ofer. It was crewed by 22 sailors of different nationalities. None were Israeli.


US CENTCOM said in a statement early Monday that the US Navy’s Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Mason responded to the distress call sent by the besieged ship.

“Five armed individuals debarked the ship and attempted to flee via their small boat,” said CENTCOM in a statement. “The Mason pursued the attackers, resulting in their eventual surrender.”

A Japanese destroyer assisted the USS Mason with the interdiction, Fox News reported. The pirates were arrested and are being questioned by the US military under counter-piracy authorities.

Within hours, two ballistic missiles were fired from Houthi-controlled Yemen at the USS Mason as it was concluding its response to the MV Central Park. Neither missile reached the ships, landed instead in the waters of the nearby Gulf of Aden.

“The missiles landed in the Gulf of Aden approximately 10 nautical miles (18.5 kilometers) from the ships,” the statement said, adding, “There was no damage or reported injuries from either vessel during this incident.”

Zodiac Maritime issued a statement thanking the US and other allies for their swift response.

“We would like to thank the coalition forces who responded quickly, protecting assets in the area and upholding international maritime law,” the company said.

The incident came on the heels of an attack on Friday on an Israeli-owned container ship, CMA CGM Symi, by a suspected Iranian Shahed-136 kamikaze drone in the Indian Ocean. The ship was slightly damaged but there were no physical injuries reported.

Houthi rebels have fired numerous ballistic missiles and combat drones at the Israeli city of Eilat on the northern coast of the Red Sea, since the Iranian-backed Hamas terrorist organization launched a war against the Jewish State on October 7. All were intercepted or missed the mark entirely.


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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.