USS Mason (DDG-87) fires an SM-2 during a March 2016 exercise. | US Navy photo
At about 6 p.m. local time on Wednesday in the Bab-al-Mandab Strait between Yemen and Eritrea, the USS Mason, a guided missile destroyer, detected an incoming missile.
The ship's Aegis Combat System, an advanced radar and fire control system spotted the thread as it zoomed towards the ship.
"You have about 90 seconds from saying 'yes, that's a missile" to launching an interceptor missile, one US official told Stars and Stripes.
And that's exactly what the commanding officer of the Mason did.
"We actually saw an explosion," an official involved with the operation told Stars and Stripes.
For decades now Aegis radar and fire control systems have protected US ships and citizens by keeping a close eye on the skies