Defense Sec: U.S. 'Determined to Preserve Freedom of Navigation' After Missiles Fired at USS Mason from Yemen
Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said the Pentagon is determined to "find out the origins" of two missiles fired from territory held by Houthi rebels in Yemen that missed the USS Mason in the Red Sea on Sunday.
According to U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, the two missiles were fired within an hour, starting at 7 p.m. local time as the destroyer was "conducting routine operations in international waters."
"Both missiles impacted the water before reaching the ship," said spokeswoman Paula Dunn. "...We assess these missiles were launched from Houthi-controlled territory in Yemen."
She said there "were no injuries to our sailors and no damage to the ship."
En route to Trinidad and Tobago on Monday for a defense ministerial, Carter told reporters "we're always, there and everywhere, highly aware of any risks and threats to our forces."
"Our forces are always aware that they -- and they were aware yesterday, these strikes failed to hit them," he said. "But I need to say that the United States forces there and everywhere around the world remain and always are very well prepared to defend themselves. We will find out the origins of this. We certainly don't take anything like this lightly. No one should. We're determined to preserve freedom of navigation there and everywhere else."
"So we're going to get to the bottom of what happened yesterday."
Carter added that "it's very important to say that our ships are safe and they're, of course, awesomely capable of defending themselves and we are very capable of taking action against anybody who takes action against our warships there or anyone else -- anywhere else, sorry."
Asked if the U.S. is considering altering its footprint in the region after the incident, the Defense secretary stressed again, "We remain ready and always prepared for every eventuality. And our ships are very capable of defending themselves."
The U.S. and other militaries with a presence in the area have been intercepting Iran arms shipments for the Houthis, including 1,500 AK-47s, 200 RPG launchers and 21 .50 caliber machine guns seized by the Cyclone-class patrol craft USS Sirocco in the Persian Gulf in April.