US Destroyer’s Last-Resort Fire: Defending Against Close-Range Houthi Missile Threa

A Houthi missile recently tested the close-in weapons system of a US destroyer, according to a report. The close-in weapons system, typically considered the last line of defense for a warship, is designed for close-range intercepts.

The incident on Tuesday is the latest Houthi missile attack, though it doesn’t represent the most recent exchange of fire. A Houthi anti-ship cruise missile was launched into the Red Sea on Tuesday, coming within a mile of a US Navy destroyer. The American warship turned to its close-in weapons system, serving as its final defense.

This marked the closest proximity a Houthi attack has come to an American warship, as reported by four US officials to CNN, which provided additional details on the incident on Wednesday. The missile, fired from Yemen, was shot down by USS Gravely around 11:30 p.m. local time, according to US Central Command.

No damage or injuries were reported, and Centcom declined Business Insider’s request for further information. For months, Iran-backed rebels have been launching attack drones and missiles into key waterways near Yemen’s coast. US warships, occasionally supported by British or French forces, have intercepted many of these threats, preventing any strikes on warships.

US Arleigh Burke-class destroyers are equipped with at least one close-in weapons system, featuring a radar-guided automatic 20 mm cannon with an effective range of about two nautical miles.

Before engaging the close-in weapons system, warships use interceptors like the SM-2 or SM-3, fired from vertical-launch-system cells. These interceptors destroy airborne threats, with the SM-3 having significant impact force, according to Raytheon, its manufacturer. Warships can also deploy chaff mechanisms to confuse a missile’s radar.

The incident involving USS Gravely occurred shortly before US forces destroyed a Houthi surface-to-air missile in Yemen, identified as an imminent threat to American aircraft in the region, according to the military on Wednesday.

The US has conducted preemptive strikes targeting Houthi missiles, particularly anti-ship capabilities, to counter potential threats to commercial vessels and American warships near Yemen’s coast. Alongside these preemptive actions, the US and UK have conducted widespread strikes in Yemen, targeting Houthi sites such as missile launchers, weapons-storage facilities, radars, and air-defense systems.

Western officials emphasize that these strikes are a response to ongoing Houthi attacks on commercial vessels in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, crucial global trade routes. John Kirby, the White House National Security Council spokesperson, stated that the US is taking aggressive action against the Houthis to defend shipping but clarified that the US is not at war with the Iran-backed rebels.

Leave a Comment