The Navy destroyer Thomas Hudner shot down an air drone Wednesday in the Red Sea — marking the second time in less than a month that a Navy warship has done so in the Middle East amid concerns of a broader conflict in the region.
Thomas Hudner was transiting international waters Wednesday when it “engaged a drone that originated from Yemen and was heading in the direction of the ship,” according to a brief Pentagon statement, which said that Hudner fired on the drone in self-defense.
“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.”
No further details were provided Wednesday.
Wednesday’s intercept follows fellow Navy destroyer Carney shooting down cruise missiles and drones on Oct. 19.
U.S. officials at the time said Iran-allied Houthi rebels in Yemen launched the barrage toward Israel, the same week that U.S. ground forces in Iraq and Syria came under drone attack, incidents that have continued and prompted retaliatory U.S. airstrikes in Syria.
Hudner is deployed with the Gerald R. Ford carrier strike group, which the Pentagon sent to the eastern Mediterranean Sea following the Palestinian militant group Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel.
U.S. officials have issued stern warnings to Iran-backed proxy forces in the region to not escalate the conflict, and 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 Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant last week, the Pentagon said.
Still, U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria have faced 55 attacks from Iranian-backed militias in the last month, leading to nearly 60 injuries, the Pentagon said Monday.
“I think that we are all sensitive to the fact that there are tensions in the region,” Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters this month. “You are seeing, and we probably will continue to see, groups that may try to exploit the situation to benefit their own interests, to include Iranian proxy groups,”
The Ford’s strike group conducted dual carrier operations earlier this month with the Dwight D. Eisenhower and the U.S. 6th Fleet flagship Mount Whitney in the Eastern Mediterranean.
The Eisenhower has since transited the Suez Canal and arrived in the Middle Eastern waters of U.S. Central Command on Nov. 4. It was the first time a carrier entered CENTCOM’s area of responsibility since the end of the Afghanistan war in 2021.