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USS Mason Fired on a Third Time Near Yemen, CNO Says

The guided-missile destroyer USS Mason (DDG 87) conducts formation exercises with two Cyclone-class patrol craft, the USS Tempest (PC 2) and USS Squall (PC 7) on Sept. 10, 2016, in the Arabian Sea. (U.S. Navy photo/Janweb B. Lagazo)
The guided-missile destroyer USS Mason (DDG 87) conducts formation exercises with two Cyclone-class patrol craft, the USS Tempest (PC 2) and USS Squall (PC 7) on Sept. 10, 2016, in the Arabian Sea. (U.S. Navy photo/Janweb B. Lagazo)

For the third time in seven days, an Arleigh-Burke class destroyer in the Red Sea has been targeted by missiles fired from the coast of Yemen, the Navy's top officer told reporters today.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson offered few details as he answered reporters' questions Saturday at the Baltimore commissioning of the USS Zumwalt, the Navy's first-in-class stealth destroyer.

"There's been recent activity today," he said. "The [USS Mason] appears to have come under attack in the Red Sea again by coastal defense cruise missiles fired from the coast of Yemen. So as you know, this is the third such attack."

Richardson would not say how many missiles were fired, how close they came to the Mason, positioned in the strait of Bab el-Mandeb along with the destroyer Nitze, and how the Navy plans to respond to this most recent attack.

On Wednesday night, the Navy announced it had fired ship-launched missiles from the Nitze and destroyed three radar sites in territory on the Yemeni coast controlled by Iran-backed Houthi rebels.

Richardson later confirmed that five missiles had been launched, destroying sites believed to be used to target the ships. But the Pentagon has yet to publicly confirm who targeted the Navy ships, with Press Secretary Peter Cook telling reporters Thursday it remained unclear "who was pulling the trigger."

The Mason and another ship, the amphibious transport dock Ponce were apparently targeted twice previously, first with a two-missile assault last weekend, then with a second pair of missiles earlier Wednesday. Navy officials have said the ships will continue to conduct routine operations in the region.

"[The Mason and Nitze] have everything they need to defend themselves from these attacks and respond when needed. So I'm very proud of the crews, they've done a terrific job," Richardson said Saturday.

"It's another thing that just shows you, this is dangerous business," he added. "When we send our sailors overseas, we have got to send them with the absolute very best, because it's dangerous over there."

--Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at hope.seck@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.

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Navy Yemen Destroyers