Old video of US Navy ship blaze falsely shared as 'Huthi rebel attack in Red Sea'

An old video of a crew fighting flames on a ship has been shared in social media posts that falsely claimed it showed the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower after "missiles" fired by Yemen's Huthi rebels struck the aircraft carrier in the Red Sea in May 2024. Washington has denied that any of its ships were damaged by the Huthis. The footage dates back to July 2020, when a blaze broke out on a US Navy ship moored at a base in California.

"USS Eisenhower aircraft carrier, hit by Huthi missiles ......Why is the US keeping silent?" read the caption of a video shared on social media platform X on June 1, 2024.

The video -- which consists of three clips -- shows helicopters and support vessels fighting a fire on a warship.

Screenshot of the false X post, captured on June 7, 2024

The video circulated shortly after Yemen's Huthi rebels claimed that they had launched a missile attack on the US aircraft carrier the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower in the Red Sea on May 31, 2024. Washington has not confirmed the aircraft carrier was targeted.

The Iran-backed Huthis, who control much of Yemen, have carried out scores of drone and missile attacks on vessels in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden since November, citing solidarity with Palestinians over the Israel-Hamas war. 

Huthi military spokesperson Yahya Saree said in a statement on X the move was in response to 16 people being killed and more than 40 wounded in Yemen's port city of Hodeida alone, including an unspecified number of civilians.

The toll announced by the Huthis, which AFP could not independently verify, would make the strikes some of the deadliest since the US and Britain launched their campaign in January against disruption of the vital trade route.

The video was also shared across multiple social media platforms including TikTok, YouTube and Chinese video-sharing platform Bilibili.

Washington, however, has dismissed claims the ship had been damaged or struck, according to reports from CBS News and the Voice of America (archived links here and here).

The footage in fact shows crews extinguishing a fire that broke out on a US warship moored in California in July 2020.

Unrelated clips

Reverse image search and subsequent keyword searches on Google found the first clip used in the video corresponds to scenes in a video published by the US Navy on July 14, 2020 (archived link). 

Its description reads: "Helicopters from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 3 combat a fire aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6).

"On the morning of July 12, a fire was called away aboard the ship while it was moored pier side at Naval Base San Diego. Base and shipboard firefighters responded to the fire.

"Bonhomme Richard is going through a maintenance availability, which began in 2018."

Below is a screenshot comparison of the falsely shared video (left) and the video on the US Navy's YouTube channel (right):

Screenshot comparison of the falsely shared video (left) and the video on the US Navy's YouTube channel (right)

Further keyword searches found the second and third clips were published here and here on an official US military website on July 13, 2020 (archived links here and here).

Below are screenshot comparisons between the falsely shared video (left) and the clips published by the US military (right):

Screenshot comparisons between the falsely shared video (left) and the clips published by the US military (right)

The USS Bonhomme Richard was at its home port in the US city of San Diego for maintenance when an explosion erupted on July 12, 2020 with 160 sailors on board, AFP reported

According to naval officials, 17 sailors and four civilians were injured and transported to the hospital while several firefighters also suffered burns and smoke inhalation. First responders worked for four days to extinguish the blaze.

A sailor was accused of starting the fire, but was acquitted, AFP reported in November 2022.

Aerial footage captured by the San Diego fire service --  which AFP published here and here -- also shows the blaze on the military ship. 

AFP has debunked other misinformation around attacks in the Red Sea here, herehere and here.

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