Video shows the moment Houthi rebels storm a cargo ship 2:30

(CNN) -- The USS Carney on Sunday shot down two drones fired by Houthi rebels in Yemen that were headed toward the ship in the southern Red Sea, responding to a distress call from a civilian commercial vessel that was hit with a ballistic missile, a U.S. defense official said.

The Carney -- an Arleigh-Burke-class destroyer deployed as part of the squadron led by the aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford -- "destroyed" a drone fired by the Houthis while in the southern Red Sea.

  • Ballistic missiles fired at U.S. destroyer after responding to attack on commercial tanker

At the same time, the official said, the Carney observed "at least one ballistic missile fired at a civilian commercial vessel, the M/V Unity Explorer, that fell in the vicinity of that vessel." The Carney responded to the Unity Explorer's distress call and, while assisting her, shot down another drone fired by the Houthis that was heading in the direction of both vessels.

The destroyer USS Carney (DDG 64) patrols the waters of the Persian Gulf in this file photo. (Credit: FELIX GARZA/US NAVY/AFP via Getty Images)

The strikes come just a day after aircraft from the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower-led aircraft carrier intercepted an Iranian unmanned aerial vehicle operating "unsafely and unprofessionally" in the Persian Gulf.

Houthi rebels rose up in Yemen in 2015 and have since waged, backed by Iran, a civil war against the Yemeni government, backed by a Saudi-led coalition.

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