In mid-November, Houthi commandos seized the Bahamian-flagged Galaxy Leader while it sailed in the Red Sea, claiming it was linked to Israel. The ship and its multinational crew remain in the port of Hodeida in Yemen, where they were taken after the seizure.
A U.S. official confirmed to ABC News on Monday that a land-based cruise missile launched from Houthi-controlled Yemen had struck the merchant ship — Motor Transport STRINDA — when it was about 60 nautical miles north of the Bab-al-Mandab, the narrow strait between Yemen and the northeast coast of Africa.
Earlier on Monday the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations received a report of an attack on a commercial vessel sailing 15 nautical miles west of the port of Mocha, Yemen.
The attack caused some damage and a fire, but no casualties have been reported according to the U.S. official.
No U.S. Navy ships were near the area when the attack occurred, but the destroyer USS Mason is now on the scene to render assistance.
In recent weeks, the Mason and the destroyer USS Carney have been involved in several incidents where they have shot down Houthi missiles or drones targeting commercial ships or Israel.
The U.S. is in discussions with other countries to form a multinational task force to protect commercial ships sailing in the region.
U.S. officials have also said publicly that the United States reserves the right to respond to the Houthi attacks at a time and place of its choosing.