US Central Command reported yesterday that the guided missile destroyer USS Mason, along with “allied ships from our coalition counter-piracy task force (TF 151), and associated aircraft” rescued the commercial vessel MV Central Park, which had been boarded some time before. The Central Park had issued a distress call reporting “that they were under attack by an unknown entity,” according to the Centcom release. “Upon arrival, coalition elements demanded release of the vessel. Subsequently, five armed individuals debarked the ship and attempted to flee via their small boat. The Mason pursued the attackers resulting in their eventual surrender. The crew of the MV Central Park is currently safe.”
The release subsequently reported that two missiles were fired from Houthi-controlled territory in Yemen in the general direction of the two ships. “The missiles landed in the Gulf of Aden approximately 10 nautical miles from the ships.” No damage was reported to either the Mason or the Central Park.
AP reported earlier that the Liberian-flagged Central Park is managed by a company called Zodiac Maritime, though noting that other documents list Zodiac as the owner. London-based Zodiac Maritime is part of Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer’s Zodiac Group, it said.
The attempted seizure of the Central Park followed an attack on the container ship CMA CGM Symi, owned by another Israeli billionaire, in the northern Indian Ocean on Nov. 24. A U.S. defense official told AP that the Malta-flagged vessel was suspected to have been targeted by a triangle-shaped, bomb-carrying Shahed-136 drone while in international waters. The drone caused damage to the ship but no injuries to the crew.