USS EISENHOWER, Red Sea — About two Navy F/A-18 fighter jets roared off the deck of the aircraft carrier Saturday night as part of a joint U.S. and British attack on Iran-backed Houthi rebels. Yemen, which stopped shipping in the Red Sea.
It was the second night in a row that attack aircraft from Eisenhower targeted Houthi forces. Earlier in the day, sailors aboard the nearby destroyer USS Mason demonstrated the high-speed decision-making needed to intercept and intercept missiles fired by the Houthis.
NBC News is currently the only news organization conducting strikes in the Red Sea with the US Navy.
Despite the threat of drones or ballistic missiles from the Houthis, adrenaline and morale appeared to be high among crew members on both U.S. ships. As Eisenhower, Mason, and their accompanying warships patrol the area, the weather is breezy and hot, the bright sun reflecting off the rippling waters that surround them.
US and UK forces hit 36 Houthi targets in 13 locations in Yemen, including “multiple underground warehouses, command and control, missile systems, UAV storage and operations areas, radars, radars, UAVs and other facilities,” US Central Command said in a statement on Saturday. struck.” and helicopters”.
Yemen-based Houthi militants have attacked about 30 cargo ships in the Red Sea since November 19. About 12% of global shipping passes through strategic waterways on a daily basis.
last month, Maersk and other shipping giants The move, which announced a pause in its operations in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, added time and money to the delivery of goods by ship. If the Houthi attacks continue, they could push up US consumer prices as the 2024 election approaches.
Houthi leaders on Saturday rejected the US and UK strikes and vowed to continue the Red Sea offensive until Israel ends its military operations in Gaza.
The political leader of the Houthis, Muhammad Al-Bukhaiti, said: “Our military operations against the Zionist entity will continue until the aggression on Gaza stops.” “We will meet tension with tension and victory is only from God.”
US officials declined to comment on the effectiveness of the strikes on Yemen on Saturday. On Friday, the carrier’s F/A-18s were able to intercept multiple drones detected by the United States that the Houthis were preparing to shoot down, military officials told NBC News.
The giant, 1,000-foot, 100,000-ton Nimitz-class carrier Eisenhower has a crew of about 5,000 and resembles a city at sea with its spacious hangars, mess halls and sleeping quarters. Launched in 1975, the aircraft carrier has since circled the world, using it during the Iran hostage crisis, Operation Desert Storm and other conflicts and crises.
U.S. officials said Saturday’s strikes in Yemen were different from the repressive airstrikes carried out by U.S. planes in Iraq and Syria after Friday’s killing of a U.S. soldier in Jordan and wounding dozens of others.
Pentagon deputy press secretary Sabrina Singh vowed to continue US efforts to degrade Houthi forces and protect shipping in the Red Sea.
“We will hold accountable the groups that attack our forces,” he said on MSNBC. “And of course we will also protect merchant ships passing through the Red Sea.”
Experts in the region have warned that American airstrikes will not be able to destroy all the ballistic missiles and drones that Iran has provided to the Houthi forces in Yemen. With many places in Yemen where weapons can be hidden, including deep, underground storage areas, US forces are engaged in a cat-and-mouse game with the Houthis.
After the American planes returned safely to Eisenhower on Saturday, it appeared that more targets with the Houthis awaited the carrier and its crew.
Courtney Kube reported from the USS Eisenhower and Dan De Luce from Washington.