Frigate “Hessen” fends off Houthi attack in the Red Sea for the first time

As of: February 28, 2024 3:53 p.m

The German Navy is involved in protecting civilian merchant shipping in the Red Sea. Now the frigate “Hessen” fired live shots for the first time and destroyed two drones belonging to the Yemeni Houthi militia.

The frigate “Hessen”, which was deployed in the Red Sea to protect merchant ships, repelled the first attack by the Houthi militia operating from Yemen. According to the Bundeswehr, the ship taking part in the EU military mission “Aspides” destroyed two drones. It is not yet known whether the drones were about to attack the frigate or a merchant ship.

For the “Hesse” it was the first use of live weapons by the German Navy in the operation that began on Friday and is considered the most dangerous naval mission in the history of the Bundeswehr.

Unknowingly drone shot at by allies

It also became known that the frigate had mistakenly fired at an allied country’s drone on Monday. Defense Ministry spokesman Michael Stempfle said the drone could not initially be assigned to any of the allied nations. The “Hesse” then tried to shoot down this drone, but was unsuccessful.

Stempfle emphasized that before the bombardment there was a query among all allied nations, in which no country reported having its own drone in the operational area. Only later did it emerge that it was an unreported drone.

Repeated shelling by Houthis

The Houthi militia, allied with Iran, wants to force an end to the Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip by shelling merchant ships in the Red Sea. The Israeli military operation is a response to the terrorist attack by the Islamist Hamas on October 7th.

The sea route through the Red Sea and the Suez Canal is one of the most important trade routes in the world. Because of the attacks by the Houthis, who are armed by Iran, large shipping companies are increasingly avoiding the shortest sea connection between Asia and Europe – with significant effects on the global economy.

Pistorius: “One of the most dangerous missions”

On Friday, the Bundestag approved German participation in the EU mission “Aspides”. The “Hessen” had previously set off from Wilhelmshaven towards the operational area with the aim of being able to begin fulfilling the order immediately after the Bundestag decision.

Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said the operation also contributed to the stabilization of the region. “But we must also be clear: the operation of the ‘Hesse’ is one of the most dangerous for the German Navy in decades,” warned the minister.

Houthis want to expand attacks

Last week, the Houthi militia said it wanted to expand attacks on merchant ships off the country’s coast. The group’s leader, Abdel-Malik al-Houthi, said in a televised speech that they are relying on escalation as a response to Israel’s escalation in the Gaza Strip. So far 48 ships have been attacked. He also announced the use of underwater weapons.

Several Western countries, including the USA and Great Britain, are involved in operations to counter the attacks.

Georg Schwarte, ARD Berlin, tagesschau, February 28, 2024 6:06 a.m

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