Drone-controlled boats filled with explosives were reportedly used in at least one attempted attack on Saudi Arabia in early October 2018.
Colonel Turki Al-Maliki, the spokesman for the Arab coalition in Yemen, claimed that the A Royal Saudi Naval Forces frigate Al Madinah-class 702 intercepted two boats laden with explosives traveling toward the major port of Jazan, located directly north of the country’s border with Yemen.
Al-Malaki said the Navy spotted two boats approaching the port on Sunday morning that appeared to be remotely controlled. The boats, reportedly operated by the Houthi group in Yemen, were destroyed and caused only minor material damage.
He warned that coalition forces “will strike with iron fist all those involved in acts of terrorism.”
“Those hostile acts will not go by without holding the ones executing, plotting and planning them accountable for their actions.”
On Oct. 2, 2018, Saudi border guards said they rescued a Saudi fishing boat that came under fire from unknown attackers while in Gulf waters, according to Al Arabiya. Border guards said that three fishermen on board were being treated for injuries, and an investigation into the origin of attack was underway.
Colonel Turki Al-Maliki, the spokesman for the Arab coalition in Yemen.
Over the last year, regional forces reportedly intercepted several drone boat attacks.
In January 2017, Houthi forces struck a Saudi warship using a remote-controlled boat. And in April 2017, Houthi forces attempted to blow up a Saudi Aramco fuel terminal and distribution station in Jazan using a high-speed boat rigged with explosives.
Vice Adm. Kevin Donegan, commander of the Bahrain-based US Fifth Fleet, told Defense News in 2017 that there is concern over the Yemeni rebel group having access to this remote type of weaponry.
“That’s not an easy thing to develop,” he said. “There’s clearly support there coming from others, so that’s problematic,” pointing to production support of the mobile weapons by Iran.
He added that explosive boats create a new category of self-destructive attacks.
“You don’t need suicide attackers to do a suicide-like attack.”
“So it makes that kind of weaponry, which would normally take someone suicidal to use, now able to be used by someone who’s not going to martyr themselves.”
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