UAE Transport, Former US High Speed Vessel Swift, Hit by Shore based ASCM

There have been numerous reports (and here) that the former US Navy High Speed Vessel Swift has been attacked and apparently destroyed by a Chinese designed but possibly Iranian built C-802 anti-ship cruise missile (ASCM) while transiting the 25 mile wide Bab-el-Mandeb Strait at the southern end of the Red Sea.

Map of Bab-el-Mandeb.png

Map of the Bab-el-Mandeb by Archer90

The missile was launched by a rebel group in Yemen. This not the first report of their use of anti-ship cruise missiles. They have claimed to have hit ships of the Saudi led coalition before. Plus the American built Israeli Corvette Hanit was hit by a Hezbollah launched C-802 in 2006. If we ever get in a situation like MarketTime again, there is a good possibility that even insurgent groups might have ASCMs.

The C-802 is similar in size and capabilities to the US build Harpoon. There is at least one report that the former Swift deployed Mk36 SRBOC.

Thanks to Peter for bringing this to my attention. 


A photo of the vessel, severely damaged but still afloat here:

They are also saying the damage was done by multiple shoulder launched missile (presumably anti-tank guided missiles) rather than a single ASCM.

26 thoughts on “UAE Transport, Former US High Speed Vessel Swift, Hit by Shore based ASCM

  1. From Brymar Consulting web site. “The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) issued Special Warning 134 stating: “Commercial vessels in the region of the Red Sea, Bab El Mandeb Strait, and the Gulf of Aden should operate under a heightened state of alert as increasing tensions in the region escalate the potential for direct or collateral damage to vessels transiting the region. These threats may come from a variety of different sources such as missiles, projectiles, or waterborne improvised explosive devices. Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for an 01 Oct attack on a UAE vessel. Vessels in the region should report hostile activities immediately and contact Coalition naval forces via VHF bridge-to-bridge radio, e-mail:, phone: 973-1785-3879.” (10/3/16). Note: This item was first brought to my attention by my friend Rolf Pedersen of Rolf Pedersen Enterprises.”

    This is particularly significant in that the Suez Canal is at the other end of the Red Sea and a huge amount of traffic passes the Bab-el-Mandeb.

  2. I find the lack of information and the ships deployed highly intriguing.

    The US’ primary drone base for Africa and the Arabian Peninsula is a rock’s throw away from the straights. I will never be convinced the US doesn’t have better information available. (Sure, classified, I’m sure, but hear me out.)

    I also find the Ponce being in the task group fascinating. It is the only vessel equipped with an operational laser which can be used as a close-in defense weapon, and it received glowing reviews during tests. So much so, that it was left aboard the Ponce as an operational weapon system until Ponce returns from deployment in 2017! It has also neutralized RPGs.

    So, all the vague/non-specific blathering, “undisclosed weapons,” “no confirmation if the Standard or ESSM missiles hit,” and “missiles land near destroyer,” COULD be a soft kill with the SLQ-32, or diversion with countermeasures like RBOC or Nulka, but it ALSO could be a successful engagement of the C-802s by the laser, as it can fry the avionics or physical control surfaces of the missile.

    Notice the Ponce has not been mentioned as being targeted (even though it is the largest and least stealthy of the US warships present), or really not mentioned at all, other than being there.

    Perhaps, Chuck, we need to be thinking more about laser armaments on the OPC?

    • @Bill Smith, “Perhaps, Chuck, we need to be thinking more about laser armaments on the OPC?”

      This is one reason I have been hoping we have a hybrid propulsion. It would insure we have excess electricity generation capabilitiies that might be used for laser, directed energy, or railgun weapons.

    • The US has gotten way too comfortable operating in the Persian Gulf, Red Sea, and Gulf of Aden. The fact that we have cutters policing over there with nothing but a 25mm, is nuts. It’s like the frog in boiling water, when something bad happens heads will roll, but by then it will be too late.

  3. German Navy blog, Marine Forum reports revised casualty figures., “YEMEN (SAUDI ARABIA)
    Update: Revised numbers suggest „at least“ five sailors killed and another 11 injured in Houthi attack on Saudi-Arabian MADINAH class frigate”
    Copyright (C) 2013 MarineForum | | Impressum | Redaktion: Ulrich-von-Hassell-Str. 2, 53123 Bonn

  4. See the link below for video of the suicide boat attack on the Saudi frigate.

    My understanding was that there were three boats involved in the attack. I suspect that there was initial ambiguity about whether the boats were hostile. That may have allowed the first boat to get in too close. Then there are delays in getting to GQ stations.

    I notice they went for the stern. Perhaps they were trying to disable the ship’s rudder or propellers so that it would be more vulnerable to the other two boats. I wonder if this is part of Iran’s doctrine for their swarm. That would put additional emphasis on weapons that can bear astern.

    Wonder if there were .50 caliber M2 MGs on the fantail. If so the dead and wounded might have been gun crew.

    • When the frigate arrived at port, apparently there was no significant damage, so it may have been that the suicide boat was exploded close, but not in contact with the frigate. The explosion may have killed the machine gun crew that stopped it.

  5. German Navy blog, Marine Forum reports. “18 Feb. ISRAEL: Lebanese Hezbollah terror organization reportedly has obtained „game-changing“ Russian-made SS-N-26 Yakhont anti-ship missiles (supersonic, range 300km) … giving it the ability to strike Israeli gas platforms and ships in the Mediterranean.”

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