On October 1, 2016 the HSV-2 Swift, a proof of concept ship, was severely damaged in a missile attack off the coast of Mokha, Yemen. A friend of mine served on her while the ship was under the US Navy. He said she was a fine ship and a delight to sail on, and he has very fond memories of her.
Luckily, the ship has not been under the US flag for several years. In 2015 she was leased to the
The ship was attacked by a rebel group called the Houthi, who are definitely not in favor of the United States, nor Israel for that matter. The Houthi are fighting Saudi Arabia and the Yemen government for control of Yemen. They have a relationship with Iran, and that is probably from where they received the missiles. The missile in question was either an Iranian or Chinese version of the C-802 Anti-ship missile.
The Swift was leased from her builder ICAT in 2003. She served under the US flag until 2011. The Swift and her sisters (Joint Venture and Spearhead) were proof of concept designs for the US Navy and US Army. For her part, the Swift functioned in various roles supporting the US Navy. From mine countermeasure support to humanitarian aid, she proved she was versatile and the fastest pickup truck of the fleet. The Swift and her sisters were based upon a proven civilian fast car ferry design, which is important to remember as one watches the fire burn within her. Would the militarized versions have fared better? I’d like to think so.
|Houthi attack||Iranian news report|
As a sailor, it is hard to watch. I’ve had friends on the USS Stark and the USS Cole. Fire at sea, let alone being fired upon is a frightening scenario, and to watch the Swift burn is heart-wrenching. The crew of the Swift talk about the attack in a an article about the crew. Post attack UAE photos can be viewed here.
The C-802 is part of the Chinese Eagle Strike – 8 family of Anti-Ship missiles. A very good run down of this family of missiles was presented by a war gaming community: the Admiral Trilogy. Their information is well resourced, and I ran across a presentation they had on the Eagle Strike family of missiles.
Notice the fire. Chances are pretty good that the primary cause of the fire was the fuel contained within the missile as the missile broke apart within the skin of the ship. A good example of the damage that the rocket fuel can cause is the HMS Sheffield during the Falklands war. The Sheffield was built of Aluminium, she was hit be a single Exocet missile which failed to explode. She sank, as she was built out of aluminium. The USS Stark on the other hand, although hit by two Exocet missiles (one didn’t explode) didn’t sink. Thanks in part to her being made of steel, which is less likely to burn and effective damage control by the crew. I attribute most of the severe damage, to the Swift, due to the fire, with the exception of what appears to be the exit hole of the explosion on the port side midships. I’m actually pleasantly surprised to see that she didn’t sink, although heavily damaged. She isn’t dead, she may sail again; but for now – rest in peace.
A Finnish naval blog entitled “Corporal Frisk” had a good write up about the attack on Swift. It is interesting to note that just yesterday, the 9th of October, this same group launched missile attacks at three US Navy ships. They are getting ballsy aren’t they?
What say you, do you think the current Yemen conflict will spread? Do you think this is a test for a “closure” of the Straits of Hormuz by Iran or it’s cronies?