The salty sailors of the warship USS Carney have left the Middle East

by Vern Evans

After nearly six months operating in the maritime battlefield that is the Red Sea, the Navy destroyer Carney left the Middle Eastern waters of U.S. Central Command and entered the Mediterranean Sea on Saturday, the Navy said in a statement.

But whether Carney is heading directly back to its home port in Mayport, Florida, remains unclear.

The brief Navy statement only notes that the ship has entered the Mediterranean after transiting the Suez Canal, and officials declined Monday to say where the ship is headed next.

But regardless of Carney’s current bearing, it has been a busy and largely unprecedented deployment for the warship and its crew.

Those sailors and their brethren aboard multiple destroyers in the region have spent the last six months in a near-daily battle with Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, who have launched drones and missiles at military and commercial ships in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.

While the Houthis launched the attacks in October in solidarity with the Palestinian militant group Hamas, their salvos have targeted and struck commercial vessels from around the world.

Carney was the first confirmed U.S. warship to enter the fray, when it intercepted a salvo of Houthi missiles and drones that U.S. officials said were headed toward Israel on Oct. 19, less than two weeks after Hamas’ brutal Oct. 7 attack that sparked Israel’s ongoing military operation in the Gaza Strip.

The battle-tested crew also received Combat Action Ribbons earlier this year, following a Dec. 16 encounter where the ship took out 14 Houthi air drones.

Of the Navy destroyers confirmed to be operating in those waters, Carney has been involved in at least 12 confirmed incidents, the most of any destroyer there, according to Navy Times’ live tracker of all Navy-Houthi engagements.

Most recently, the warship took out six Houthi air attack drones on March 23.

Geoff is the editor of Navy Times, but he still loves writing stories. He covered Iraq and Afghanistan extensively and was a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He welcomes any and all kinds of tips at geoffz@militarytimes.com.

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