USS Mason takes down drone for at least the second time this month

by Tommy Grant

The destroyer Mason shot down an unmanned aerial vehicle Wednesday that officials say originated from Iran-allied Houthi rebels in Yemen, marking at least the second instance this month where the U.S. warship has had to take such action.

The incident is the most recent episode where U.S. warships in the Middle East have intercepted air drones and missiles, and comes days after the Mason assisted a commercial ship a cruise missile struck in the Red Sea’s Bab-el-Mandeb strait.

According to a defense official, the Mason took down the drone “headed in the direction of the ship” in an act of self defense on Wednesday. However, the official did not specify whether the drone specifically targeted the Mason.

“At the time of the shoot down, the Mason was responding to reports that a commercial oil tanker was under attack from suspected Houthi forces,” the defense official told Navy Times. “We are not currently aware of any injuries to personnel or damage to vessels.”

Both the Mason, as well as destroyer Carney, have both shot down drones in recent weeks and provided assistance to commercial vessels amid heightened tensions in the region stemming from the Israel-Hamas war.

On Monday, the Mason provided aid to the Norwegian-flagged oil and chemical tanker Strinda after an anti-ship cruise missile hit it, leading to a fire and damage aboard the vessel, according to U.S. Central Command.

The Mason also shot down a drone on Dec. 6, just days after the Carney shot down multiple air drones earlier that week as several merchant ships came under attack by missiles fired from Houthi rebel-controlled areas of Yemen.

“We also have every reason to believe that these attacks, while launched by the Houthis in Yemen, are fully enabled by Iran,” U.S. Central Command said in a statement earlier this month. “The United States will consider all appropriate responses in full coordination with its international allies and partners.”

Additionally, Pentagon press secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters Tuesday that addressing these threats in the region requires an “international solution.”

“We’re continuing to take the situation in the Red Sea extremely seriously, there should be no doubt about that,” Ryder said. “The actions that we’ve seen from these Houthi forces are destabilizing, they’re dangerous, and clearly a flagrant violation of international law. And so this is an international problem that requires an international solution. We do continue to consult closely with our international allies and partners on implementing a maritime task force.”

The Mason is part of aircraft carrier Dwight D. Eisenhower’s carrier strike group, which departed Norfolk, Virginia, in October for a scheduled deployment. The carrier transited the Strait of Hormuz into the Persian Gulf last month.

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