Royal Saudi Navy Frigate Badly Damaged in Houthi Attack; Iran Claims Chinese-made C-802 Missile Hit Warship
A frigate of the Royal Saudi Navy (RSN) patrolling off the Houthi-controlled Yemeni port city of Hodeida was struck by an explosion on Jan. 30, killing two sailors. The warship wasn't sunk, however.
The Saudi Arabian government confirmed the hit and said it was the result of an attack by at least three small suicide boats manned by Houthis, who are battling a Saudi Arabian-led coalition seeking to restore the ousted Yemeni government to power.
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Houthis and their ally, Iran, however, both claimed the frigate was struck by an anti-ship missile (AShM).
If true, this will be the second successful missile attack on a ship belonging to the Saudi-coalition. On Oct. 2, 2016, a C-802 Chinese-made AShM supplied by Iran heavily damaged the United Arab Emirates vessel, HSV Swift, as the ship was transiting the Bab al-Mandeb Strait off Yemen.
The C-802 is the export version of China's YJ-8 AShM and carries a 190 kg warhead to a distance of 120 km. The YJ-8 arms China's Xian H-6 strategic heavy bombers.
Swift is the forerunner of the Spearhead-class Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF) warships, which are high-speed, shallow draft vessels that today transport U.S. Marines to trouble spots around the world.
In the early evening of Oct. 9, the Houthis launched two C-802s at the U.S. Navy warship, the USS Mason (DDG-87), an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, also traversing the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait The Navy said the Mason took countermeasures to defeat both missiles that crashed into the sea a long distance from the destroyer.
The Royal Saudi Navy operates seven frigates: three al-Riyadh-class and four al-Madinah-class.
It hasn't specified what frigate class was damaged in the Houthi attack.
"A Saudi frigate on patrol west of the port city of Hodeida was hit by a terrorist attack from three suicide boats belonging to the Houthi militias," said the Saudis in a statement.
On the other hand, Iranian state media claims the attack Houthi militants used a guided missile against the RSN warship.
Iranian media quoted an analyst as claiming the warship was indeed struck by an AShM.
"It doesn't require a stretch of the imagination to presume that it was an anti-ship missile since the sites the US hit back in 2016 weren't the only ones that the Houthis had access to, courtesy of defected forces from Saleh," said the analyst.
"However, this assessment is complicated by the recent Saudi report claiming that damage was done by suicide boats as well as the shoddy footage."
The Houthis posted a video of the attack on YouTube. It can be viewed here.