An airborne drone launched from Yemen and shot down by the Navy destroyer Thomas Hudner in the Red Sea Wednesday was not targeting the warship, Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh told reporters Thursday.
A Defense Department assessment concluded that while the Hudner was not the drone’s intended target, it “got so close to the crew that the commander did feel it necessary to engage and shoot down the drone,” Singh said.
She declined to comment on how close the drone came to the ship, or which weapons Hudner used to down it.
Thomas Hudner was traveling in international waters Wednesday when it fired on the drone in self-defense, according to a brief Pentagon statement.
“The Hudner’s crew engaged and shot down the drone to ensure the safety of U.S. personnel,” the Pentagon said. “There were no U.S. casualties or any damage to the ship.”
While the Pentagon’s investigation into the drone’s origin is still underway, Singh suggested it was fired by Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.
The skirmish marked the second time in a month that a Navy ship has shot down potential threats.
Fellow Navy warship Carney intercepted a salvo of missiles and drones Oct. 19 while the destroyer was operating in the Red Sea. Pentagon officials attributed those firings to Houthis and said the barrage was headed toward Israel.
U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria have faced 58 attacks from Iranian-backed militias in the last month, Singh said Thursday.
Hudner is deployed with the Gerald R. Ford carrier strike group, which the Pentagon sent to the eastern Mediterranean Sea in the wake of the Oct. 7 attack by the Palestinian militant group Hamas that has sparked a larger war with Israel.
U.S. officials have issued stern warnings to Iran-backed proxy forces in the region to avoid compounding the violence. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin reiterated a commitment to “deter any state or non-state actor seeking to escalate this conflict” in a call with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant last week, the Pentagon said.
Geoff is the editor of Navy Times, but he still loves writing stories. He covered Iraq and Afghanistan extensively and was a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He welcomes any and all kinds of tips at email@example.com.