Hundreds of Mayport-based sailors credited with stopping rebel attacks in Red Sea

More than 200 sailors aboard a Jacksonville-based warship are getting credited for fighting off rebel attacks on cargo ships in the Middle East.

Over the past several weeks, the USS Carney has shot down numerous drones and missiles from Houthi rebels sparked by the Israel-Hamas war. The Carney is a 505-foot-long Arleigh Burke-class destroyer in the United States Navy.

The Navy reported no one aboard the Carney was hurt and no known casualties from the attacks.

News4JAX was at the dock at Naval Station Mayport as sailors said goodbye to their loved ones deploying aboard the USS Carney to the Middle East on Sept. 27 — with no idea that the Israel-Hamas war would break out on October 7.

Now, those sailors have found themselves in the conflict, shooting down Houthi drones in the southern Red Sea in a strait between Yemen and Djibouti.

On Sunday, Dec. 3, the Navy destroyer took out multiple air drones and missiles in an hours-long offensive from Yemen’s Iran-backed rebels defending three separate cargo vessels in four attacks.

The Houthis have claimed responsibility for the attacks saying they will continue to prevent Israel-bound ships from the Red Sea until Israel stops its attacks on the Gaza Strip. They recently shared a video of rebels taking over another cargo ship dropping in by helicopter.

“Anytime you’re in an area like that, where there’s potential for hostilities, it’s a real challenge. The ship has to be at a heightened state of readiness 24 hours a day,” said Retired Admiral Robert Natter, who was the commander of the U.S. Navy’s Atlantic Fleet from 2000-2003.

Natter is not surprised that the Carney and other American battleships are getting involved.

On Oct. 19, the same crew knocked down a barrage of missiles and drones that they believed were headed for Israel.

“We’ve got to be very careful over there as a nation, to try not to get embroiled into the hostilities as a direct combatant force,” Natter said. “Having said that, we also can’t just bail out, there is such thing as the International Law of Independent steaming. We are allowed to transit the seas, as is any Merchantman. So, we’ve got a responsibility to maintain that standard and support for international law.”

Today, there were four attacks against three separate commercial vessels operating in international waters in the southern Red Sea. These three vessels are connected to 14 separate nations. The Arleigh-Burke Class destroyer USS CARNEY responded to the distress calls from the…

— U.S. Central Command (@CENTCOM) December 3, 2023

In Sunday’s escalation, the Navy said the crew of the Carney was busy defending cargo ships. These attacks happened in international waters at 9:15 a.m., noon, 12:35 p.m., 3:30 p.m., and 4:30 p.m. Yemen time.

In a statement, the Southern Command wrote:

“These attacks represent a direct threat to international commerce and maritime security… The United States will consider all appropriate responses in full coordination with its international allies and partners.”

Natter knows this combat can be stressful for the families of the sailors watching from home as their loved ones are in harm’s way. He said the Navy will do its best to keep them informed.

“There will be some follow-up information for the families, especially if there was any damage to the ship or people,” he added. “And again, they will be great pains taken by the Defense Department to notify the families prior to any public statement, having said that, this kind of news travels fast.”

The Carney isn’t the only Mayport-based ship in the conflict. In recent weeks, the USS Thomas Hudner shot down enemy drones near Yemen and the USS Mason fired on Somali pirates who just attacked a tanker.

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