The warship was responding to a distress signal from a commercial tanker, the Central Park, in the Gulf of Aden at the time of the attack.
The Central Park had reported an assault by an unidentified entity, prompting the USS Mason and its allied ships to intervene. Upon reaching the scene, the naval forces demanded the release of the Central Park. Subsequently, five armed individuals disembarked from the vessel and attempted to escape in a small boat. "The MASON pursued the attackers resulting in their eventual surrender," stated a release from the U.S. Central Command, confirming the safety of the Central Park's crew.
Simultaneously, the two ballistic missiles were launched from Yemen, aimed in the general direction of the Mason and Central Park. However, the missiles fell into the Gulf of Aden, approximately 10 nautical miles from the ships, causing no damage or injuries. The USS Mason, part of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group, was concluding its response to the Central Park's distress call when the missiles were launched.
This incident is the latest in a series of attacks on U.S. troops and assets in the Middle East since the onset of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas on October 7. The U.S. has attributed these attacks to Iran and its allied militant groups, a claim that Tehran has consistently denied.
In a similar incident last Tuesday, Iran-backed militias launched a close-range ballistic missile attack on U.S. and coalition forces at the Al Asad Air Base in Iraq. The attack resulted in several non-serious injuries and minor infrastructure damage, according to defense officials.
Furthermore, on Thursday, the USS Thomas Hudner, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, intercepted multiple "one-way attack drones" in the Red Sea. These drones were launched from Houthi-controlled areas in Yemen, as reported by CENTCOM.
Since October 17, U.S. forces in the region have been targeted in at least 67 attacks, marking a significant escalation in the conflict.