The USS Mason and the USS Ponce, were targeted on Sunday in a failed missile attack from territory off the coast of Yemen, according to the Pentagon and the USS Mason, a guided-missile destroyer, reportedly came under attack for a second time on Wednesday
It branded the move as “limited self-defense strikes,” meant to protect American personnel, ships and freedom of navigation.
“These limited self-defense strikes were conducted to protect our personnel, our ships, and our freedom of navigation in this important maritime passageway,” Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said.
“The United States will respond to any further threat to our ships and commercial traffic, as appropriate,” he added.
Cook said that President Barack Obama authorized the strikes on the recommendation of Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and General Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The strikes mark the first direct involvement by the US forces in the Muslim country.
US Navy destroyer USS Nitze carried out Tomahawk cruise missiles at about 4:00 a.m. local (0100 GMT), said American military officials, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“These radars were active during previous attacks and attempted attacks on ships in the Red Sea,” including the USS Mason, one of the officials said.
The USS Mason, a guided-missile destroyer, came under attack on Wednesday for the second time, according to Cook.
The USS Mason and the USS Ponce, an amphibious warfare ship, were previously targeted on Sunday in a failed missile attack from territory in the Red Sea off the coast of Yemen, according to the Pentagon.
On Tuesday, the US military vowed to retaliate for the missile attack. “Counterstrike, retaliatory strike: I can tell you that those things are things that we are looking at,” said Captain Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman.
The US military has been providing logistic and surveillance support to Saudi Arabia in its military aggression against Yemen, the kingdom’s impoverished southern neighbor, which has killed more than 10,000 Yemenis since its onset in March 2015.
Washington has on several occasions criticized the Saudi regime for its crimes against humanity in Yemen, but has shown no sign of ending its support for Riyadh.