After being warned by Dutch naval vessel HNLMS Karel Doorman, the Greek naval vessel HS Psara repelled a drone attack on a cargo ship by the Houthis on 7 July. In the attack, the Greek crew took down two drones.

This happened while escorting and protecting a cargo ship through the Gulf of Aden as part of EU Operation Aspides. HNLMS Karel Doorman warned Greek colleagues of the approaching threat. The ship was also on standby to provide medical support if necessary. There were no injuries in the attack and no material damage.

Video showing a drone being shot down (released by the Dutch Ministry of Defence).

The drone attack took place off the Somali coast. In defence, the crew of HS Psara used various weapon systems and the gun. Subsequently, the threat subsided and the cargo ship was able to continue its journey safely.

Tactical command

Also aboard the Greek naval vessel during the attack were three Dutch staff members, including Commander George Pastoor who happened to be on a working visit.

Pastoor: ‘This attack shows that it is still very unsafe for shipping in this region. With the deployment of EU countries’ units, we are able to protect shipping and maintain free passage.’ Pastoor, together with his international staff, is in tactical command of EU Operation Aspides from HNLMS Karel Doorman.

Also read: 13% of seaborne trade under attack from Houthis and Somali pirates

Threat of drones

Houthi units in Yemen pose a threat that includes various types of drones such as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). These are used by Houthis for reconnaissance and attacks on military bases, critical infrastructure and shipping in the region. The drones are difficult to detect and intercept. As a result, Houthis are able to inflict significant damage with limited resources.

The Royal Netherlands Navy is aware of the threat posed by drones. The navy has been practising and readying new systems for some time. These are intended to be able to counter drone attacks from the air and from the surface of the water, among other things.

Also read: HNLMS Karel Doorman to Red Sea for supplies and medical care

Free passage

EU operation Aspides aims to promote free passage and protect shipping in the Red Sea, Indian Ocean and Gulf region. Like the rest of Europe, the Netherlands has a direct interest in the safe and unhindered transport of goods by sea. Currently, this free passage is seriously threatened by attacks by the Houthis. They attack cargo ships from Yemen using drones and (ballistic) missiles, among other things.

Picture: HNLMS Karel Doorman (by Dutch Ministry of Defence).

Also read: EU launches new mission to protect ships in Red Sea