Old footage of weapons testing misattributed as the U.S. Navy destroying Houthi boats in the Red Sea

By: Emmi Kivi
January 5 2024

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Old footage of weapons testing misattributed as the U.S. Navy destroying Houthi boats in the Red Sea

Source: Screenshots/X


The Verdict False

The footage shows a 2017 U.S. Navy weapons trial. It predates the current clashes between the U.S. Navy and the Houthis in the Red Sea.

Claim ID 26853f37

What is the claim?

Amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, Houthi rebels have attacked vessels in the Red Sea against the Israeli air-and-ground offensive in the Gaza Strip. On January 3, the U.S. and 12 allies issued a warning to Houthis to halt attacks on vessels in the Red Sea or risk targeted military action. The warning followed U.S. helicopters firing on Houthi rebels a few days earlier in response to a Houthi attack on a cargo ship.

A video clip showing ammunition landing at sea and hitting a small vessel was shared by social media users with the claim it shows the U.S. Navy destroying Houthi boats in the Red Sea. The clip was shared on X and TikTok with the caption: “The US Navy DESTROYED Iranian-backed Houthi boats in the red sea.” Other users shared the video with the description "US Navy Eliminated Houthi Boat" and timestamp “1-1-2024.”

Logically Facts found that the footage dates back to 2017 and shows the U.S. Navy conducting a weapons trial in the Pacific Ocean.

What did we find?

A reverse image search of some of the keyframes of the footage led us to a YouTube video headlined “Mark 38 Machine Gun Hits Small Boat Targets • US Navy”, published on March 17, 2017. According to the video description, the U.S. Navy conducted a weapons qualification test aboard the USS America (LHA-6). The footage shows the combat systems ship qualifications trials, in which a Mark 38 machine gun was used to hit remote-controlled smallboat targets. The visuals match the ones on the viral posts [timestamp 0.37]. 

Image on the left shows a screenshot of the viral footage and image on the right with matching footage 
is a screenshot of the YouTube video, dated March 17 2017. (Source: X/YouTube/Modified by Logically Facts)

The YouTube channel credited the video to Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Joshua Samoluk of the U.S. Navy. With these added clues Logically Facts found the same video on the Defence Visual Information Distribution Service website of the U.S. Department of Defence. 

Screenshot of the same footage on the Defence Visual Information Distribution Service
website, dated February 2 2017. (Source: DVIDS)

The video description affirms that the footage displays sailors aboard the USS America (LHA 6) loading ammunition into the close-in weapons system for operational testing on February 2, 2017. The description states that the video was captured in the Pacific Ocean. 

The rising tensions in the Red Sea have resulted in the spread of misattributed footage claiming to show recent aggression of or against the Houthis. These include misattributed video from 2017 Houthis attacking a Saudi vessel with claims it was a U.S. Navy Destroyer, 2016 footage of a Houthi attack as a recent charge on an Israeli or Norwegian ship, or a recent fire at sea in Oman was falsely misattributed to a U.K. ship set ablaze on the coast of Yemen – all covered by Logically Facts.

The Verdict

The video does not show the U.S. Navy destroying Houthi boats in the Red Sea. Instead, the footage displays the U.S. Navy conducting a weapons trial in 2017 in the Pacific Ocean. It is unrelated to the current U.S. Navy and Houthis clashes. Therefore, we have marked the claim as false.

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