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    USS Carney: Triumph in the Red Sea Amidst Unprecedented Houthi Missile Barrage

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    When Commander Jeremy Robertson and his crew set sail from Naval Station Mayport, Florida, on September 27, they had no way of knowing what lay ahead. However, Robertson expressed confidence in their readiness to confront any challenges. Soon enough, Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen would put their preparedness to the test.

    Over the next few months, the crew of the Carney faced a relentless barrage of missiles and drones launched by Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, targeting various vessels navigating the narrow confines of the Red Sea.

    When the Houthis fired anti-ship ballistic missiles, Robertson’s sailors had mere seconds to decide how to respond. “From start to finish, it’s anywhere from nine to 20 seconds,” Robertson explained to reporters on Monday, just a day after the Carney returned to Mayport. “So very fast, very dynamic. And our systems are doing exactly what we’ve designed them to do.”

    Swiftly countering these threats required full confidence in the ship’s tactical action officers, watch team, and all onboard systems, Robertson added.

    “We have learned some significant capabilities when it comes to speed,” he said. “So an [anti-ship ballistic missile] is just way faster than anything else. And we have certain capabilities to be able to detect stuff like that…These are certainly very dangerous areas. And every, every interaction is completely different from one another.”

    The destroyer originally joined the Gerald R. Ford carrier strike group in the European theater this fall for a scheduled deployment.

    However, on October 18, it was redirected to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in the Middle East due to concerns about a larger conflict emerging as the Israel-Hamas war began.

    The next day, the Carney became the first confirmed U.S. warship to intercept a series of Houthi missiles and drones in the Red Sea, an hours-long engagement that would shape its mission for months to come.

    The Carney, along with several other Navy destroyers, has been countering Houthi threats to military and commercial vessels in the region since then. In addition to intercepting Houthi missiles and drones, the Carney also played a crucial role in stopping Iran’s missile and drone attack against Israel on April 14.

    “The team was there, they were in the moment and it was amazing to see how quickly they transitioned into a battle mindset,” Robertson said. “Their responsibility and actions and follow up came very instinctual. We were doing all of our pre-planned responses, we were doing everything we could to make sure that we didn’t make a mistake.”

    Each day was unique, Robertson said, adding that he wouldn’t change the ship’s training for Middle East operations—except perhaps adding an extra exercise for contingencies like the rescue and assistance missions Carney undertook to aid commercial vessels attacked by the Houthis. “It really validates the training and preparedness that we have,” Robertson noted.

    Back on land Monday, Robertson expressed pride in his crew’s “relentless pursuit of excellence,” stating that Carney’s sailors will never forget their historic deployment. “The crew was there for each other and they got through it together, built resiliency together,” Robertson said. “Their cohesion and connectedness is one of the major factors into why they made such an effective warfighting team.”

    Throughout a six-month span, the Carney carried out 51 engagements, as reported by Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Lisa Franchetti. During a brief stop in Norfolk, Va., this month, Franchetti acknowledged 14 sailors for their outstanding achievements at sea.

    Moreover, the entire crew received recognition for their actions in the Red Sea in January, when the Navy awarded them Combat Action Ribbons for an engagement in December where they successfully intercepted 14 Houthi air drones.

    Upon their return to Mayport on Sunday, Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro presented the Navy Unit Commendation to the ship. This unit award, second only to the Presidential Unit Citation, is bestowed upon Navy and Marine Corps units that demonstrate exceptional heroism in action against enemy forces.

    Relevant articles:
    USS Carney crew kept a ‘battle mindset’ during Red Sea mission countering Houthi attacks, Stars and Stripes
    Inside the USS Carney’s harrowing and unprecedented deployment, Navy Times
    Back Home, USS Carney Crew Lauded for Battling Houthi Drones and Missiles in Middle East, Military.com
    USS Carney is back in the US following 7-month deployment to Middle East, ‘51 engagements’ in Red Sea, Stars and Stripes

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