Back Home, USS Carney Crew Lauded for Battling Houthi Drones and Missiles in Middle East

Arleigh-Burke class guided-missile destroyer USS Carney
Arleigh-Burke class guided-missile destroyer USS Carney ends a seven month deployment as it is escorted into the basin at Naval Station Mayport, May 19, 2024. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Steven Khor/Released)

The USS Carney, the Navy destroyer that kicked off a period of intense fighting between U.S. ships and Houthi rebels, returned to her home port of Mayport, Florida, to fanfare, celebration and accolades on Sunday.

According to the service's top civilian leader, Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro, the ship conducted 51 engagements against Houthi-launched weapons that included land-attack cruise missiles, anti-ship ballistic missiles, and drones. The ship also conducted two defensive strikes against Houthis in Yemen that destroyed 20 targets and an Iranian-launched, medium-range ballistic missile.

Del Toro also presented the ship with a Navy Unit Commendation for "outstanding performance in action against terrorist forces," according to a copy of his remarks provided by the service.

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The Carny's nearly eight-month deployment began in the Mediterranean Sea, but the warship eventually crossed through the Suez Canal and into the Red Sea following a brutal Hamas surprise attack on Israeli settlements on Oct. 7.

Twelve days after that attack, on Oct. 19, the Carney shot down three land-attack cruise missiles and 15 drones that were launched by Houthi forces in Yemen, the Pentagon revealed at the time.

    On Dec. 11, Gen. Michael Kurilla, the head of U.S. Central Command, flew out to the Carney to present sailors aboard the ship with awards stemming from this incident, but they would become the first of many.

    Just days later, on Dec. 16, the ship would go on to shoot down 14 Houthi drones in the Red Sea, a Navy post on social media said.

    In early January, Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, then the commander of the Navy's forces in the Middle East, visited the ship and presented the commander and crew with five more awards and "he also recognized the whole crew with the Combat Action Ribbon" for their actions on Dec. 16. has repeatedly requested the details of some of these awards, but those requests have gone unanswered.

    At the time of their awarding, some of the combat commendations seemed to clash with assurances from Navy and Pentagon officials that suggested U.S. ships were not being actively targeted, thus helping to tamp down calls for stronger retaliation against the Houthis or suggestions that America had entered into a new war in the Middle East.

    In February, reporters discovered that a missile came within a mile of the USS Gravely, suggesting that ships in the area were in far greater danger than officials had been willing to admit.

    In speaking with reporters Tuesday, the Carney's commanding officer, Cmdr. Jeremy Robertson, said that "none of us could have prepared for this -- none of us could have known what was going to happen."

    However, Robertson praised his crew for rising to the occasion.

    "It was amazing to see how quickly they transitioned into a battle mindset. ... Their responsibility and actions and follow-up became very instinctual," he said.

    In all, the Navy said that sailors aboard the Carney received six individual awards, including a Bronze Star, two Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals, and three Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals. Robertson received the Bronze Star and one of the two Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals.

    Related: Navy Authorizes Combat Awards for Sailors in the Red Sea Following Months of Attacks by Houthi Rebels

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