By: Christian Haag
January 2 2024
Video on TikTok claiming to show the skirmish between the U.S. Navy and the Houthi Rebels. Source: TikTok/Screenshot/Edited by Logically Facts.
The video predates the skirmish between the U.S. Navy and Houthi Rebels.
Following the sinking of Houthi rebel boats by U.S. Navy Helicopters after an attack on the cargo ship Maersk Hangzhou, social media users have circulated unrelated videos falsely claiming they show the attack.
One such viral video circulating on TikTok and X (formerly Twitter) shows a helicopter gunner firing at a single boat. One post on X shared the video with the caption "WATCH: U.S. MILITARY ENGAGES HOUTHI REBELS IN RED SEA."
However, the claim is false, and the footage shows a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter firing at smugglers in the Caribbean Sea.
Screenshot of a post on X spreading the viral video. (Source: X/Screenshot/Logically Facts)
The footage was originally posted to the U.S. Department of Defense media repository DVIDS on August 27, 2020. DVIDS states that the footage was shot on July 21, 2020, and shows "A deployed helicopter interdiction tactical squadron team attached to Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton fires three warning shots across the bow of the drug vessel, July 21, 2020, Caribbean Sea."
A reverse image search showed the same footage uploaded to YouTube as early as August 28, 2020, titled "Coast Guard Helicopter Sniper vs Narco Vessel - Warning Shots Stop Smugglers During Helicopter Chase."
The video description explains that the video shows "a Coast Guard helicopter sniper firing three warning shots at a fleeing narco vessel during a helicopter chase in the Caribbean sea."
It was also posted by the official Facebook account of the U.S. Naval Institute to congratulate the U.S. Coast Guard on its 232nd anniversary on August 4, 2022.
An escalating situation used to spread disinformation
On December 31, 2023, Maersk Hangzhou was attacked by four Houthi rebel boats who attempted to board the container ship. After responding to distress calls, the USS Eisenhower and USS Gravely dispatched helicopters to aid the ship. Three out of the four boats were sunk and their crews were killed.
The situation in the Red Sea has escalated since the Israel-Hamas war as Houthi rebels have attacked vessels in the Red Sea to support Hamas's fight against Israel in Gaza. The situation in the Red Sea has resulted in numerous false claims using misattributed videos claiming to show attacks by and on Houthi rebels.
Logically Facts has covered several such claims, such as misattribution of the attack on HSV-2 Swift in 2016 to current events, claims a wedding was held by Houthi rebels on a captured Israeli ship, and a 2017 video of Houthi rebels attacking a Saudi vessel but claimed to be a U.S. Navy Destroyer.
The viral footage shows a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter firing at a vessel smuggling narcotics in the Caribbean Sea in 2020 and predates the skirmish between the U.S. Navy and the Houthi Rebels. Therefore, we have marked this claim as false.