The US Secretary of Defence Lloyd J. Austin has announced the establishment of Operation Prosperity Guardian. This new multinational security initiative is to protect ships in the Red Sea.

‘The recent escalation in reckless Houthi attacks originating from Yemen threatens the free flow of commerce, endangers innocent mariners, and violates international law,’ states Austin on the US Department of Defence website. ‘The Red Sea is a critical waterway that has been essential to freedom of navigation and a major commercial corridor that facilitates international trade. Countries that seek to uphold the foundational principle of freedom of navigation must come together to tackle the challenge posed by this non-state actor launching ballistic missiles and uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs) at merchant vessels from many nations lawfully transiting international waters.’

Also read: International consultations on protection of ships in Red Sea

Operation Prosperity Guardian

Operation Prosperity Guardian is a new multinational security initiative under the umbrella of the Combined Maritime Forces and the leadership of its Task Force 153, which focuses on security in the Red Sea.

The initiative is bringing together multiple countries to include the United Kingdom, Bahrain, Canada, France, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Seychelles and Spain, to jointly address security challenges in the southern Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. The goal is to ensure freedom of navigation for all countries and bolstering regional security and prosperity.

Latest attacks

US Central Command reports that the latest attacks occurred yesterday, 18 December. At approximately 9:00 (Sanaa time), there were two Houthi militant attacks against commercial shipping in the Southern Red Sea.

The chemical/oil tanker motor vessel Swan Atlantic was attacked by a one-way attack drone and an anti-ship ballistic missile launched from a Houthi-controlled areas in Yemen. The Cayman Islands flagged Swan Atlantic reported impact on the vessel and requested assistance, the USS Carney, the closest US warship, responded to assess the damage.

At approximately the same time, the bulk cargo ship M/V Clara reported an explosion in the water near their location. This attack is separate from the attack on the M/V Swan Atlantic. There was no request for support or report of damage.

There were no injuries reported during either incident.

Picture: The USS Carney (by US Navy, public domain).

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