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Houthi Missile Got Within One Mile of US Warship: Senior Officials

A Houthi anti-ship missile got within a nautical mile (1.8 kilometers) of an American warship, causing concerns about the safety of US Navy sailors in the Red Sea.

The information was revealed by four senior US defense officials, who said the USS Gravely destroyer had to use its Close-In Weapon System (CIWS) for the first time since the military began intercepting Houthi missiles late last year.

The CIWS can fire up to 4,500 rounds a minute and is typically used for close-range intercepts. It is also considered the last line of defense for American warships.

USS Gravely
The USS Gravely firing its close-in weapons system (CIWS) during a live-fire exercise. Photo: Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Moises Sandoval/US Navy

In the past, the US Navy intercepted enemy missiles at a range of eight miles (13 kilometers) or more. But this time, the use of the CIWS may indicate that the ship had found itself “obviously not an optimal situation,” according to a retired Navy warship captain.

Although the weapon successfully neutralized the missile, fears have grown about the safety of military personnel, especially after the killing of three US troops in a drone attack in Jordan.

More Sophisticated Attacks?

Several reports have raised the possibility that Houthi attacks may have gotten more sophisticated because they are getting closer to their targets.

However, a US official shrugged off the claim, saying the close call does not entail any kind of advancement in the way the militants are striking.

But for Tom Karako, the director of the Missile Defense Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, it was indeed “concerning” that a Houthi missile got so close to an American warship.

“If it’s going at a pretty good clip, one mile translates to not very long in terms of time,” he told CNN.

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