PENTAGON - A U.S. Navy destroyer is patrolling off the coast of Yemen to protect international waterways from Houthi militia aligned with Iran, a U.S. defense official told VOA on Friday.
The USS Cole arrived Friday in the vicinity of the Bab al-Mandab Strait off southwestern Yemen to conduct "presence operations," which will include escorting duties, to help protect vessels passing through the strait, the official told VOA on the condition of anonymity.
The USS Cole provides anti-surface and anti-air defense capabilities, allowing the ship to better "reach out and touch" potential enemy attackers, according to the defense official, who added that the ship had not fired into Yemen since its arrival.
The U.S. military had a plan "in the works" to move a cruiser or a destroyer into the Bab al-Mandab Strait soon, but the timeline was accelerated due to a Houthi suicide attack on a Saudi frigate in the Red Sea on Monday that killed two crew members.
Two amphibious ships, the USS Comstock and the USS Makin Island, are nearby in the Gulf of Aden.