It’s not often that the maritime environment features prominently in any Middle Eastern conflict, but in the waters of the Red Sea off the coast of Yemen there have been two noteworthy incidents recently, both of which have a decidedly Australian angle (even if these weren't obvious at first).

The first incident occurred on 1 October, when a UAE-flagged catamaran was severely damaged in a missile attack allegedly using a Chinese-made C-802 launched by Houthi rebels and captured on video. The damage was extensive and several civilian contractor crewmen were wounded (though their nationalities and extent of their injuries wasn’t immediately clear). The Australian angle lay in the fact that the HSV-2 Swift catamaran was manufactured by Incat in Tasmania, a detail heralded by the Hobart-based Mercury newspaper.

In response to the attack, the US Navy sent a small naval task group to the same area, which also came under fire a little over a week later. Neither of the two missiles that were launched hit anything; indeed, it appears that both fell short either because they were interdicted or the vessels were out of range. One of the US ships fired three missiles in defence, along with some decoys. This time the Australian connection lay in one of the defence mechanisms used; the Nulka Active Missile Decoy. It was designed in Australia by Australia's DSTO (now DST Group) and produced jointly with the US. Given the controversy surrounding the use of US- and UK-supplied munitions supplied to the Gulf coalition (whose errant bombing campaign has caused thousands of civilian casualties), Canberra can count itself fortunate that the appearance of its military equipment in the civil war has been so benign.

Photo: Getty Images/Marco Garcia