The EU mission escorted 68 ships and repelled 11 attacks since it was established less than two months ago, according to a report by the Associated Press. It only defends vessels and does not engage in military strikes.

The Iran-backed Houthis, who control much of war-torn Yemen, have been targeting the vital shipping lane since November in a campaign they say is in solidarity with Palestinians during the Gaza war.

The Houthi attacks have roiled shipping in the Red Sea, forcing some companies to take alternative routes, including a two-week detour around the tip of Southern Africa.

“In less than two months since the operation was launched, the operation has escorted 68 vessels and has repelled 11 attacks,” Borrell told journalists.

The commander of the European Union naval mission in the Red Sea Vasileios Gryparis said that this included shooting down nine aerial drones, one seaborne drone and four anti-ship ballistic missiles.

The Greek commander is hoping to increase the size of its fleet to enhance defensive capabilities against potential attacks by the Houthis. Nineteen of the 27 EU member-states are taking part in the mission, but only four warships are patrolling the area, which amounts to twice the size of the European Union member-states combined. The southern part of the Red Sea is deemed as a high-risk zone.

“Just a single transit of one of our ships between the two larger distances to the area might take about 10 days, and also to cross the high-risk area takes almost two days,” Greek navy rear admiral Vasilios Gryparis, the commander of the mission, told reporters in Brussels on Monday.

He said that the high-risk zone “has seen multiple attacks in the past months,” ranging from threats and intimidation to “complex attacks” using “shore, air and sea-based assets, drones and ballistic missiles.” No one has been hurt.

The EU mission – which currently consists of four frigates – has an exclusively defensive mandate and is not allowed to attack the Houthis on Yemeni soil.

The United States is spearheading its own naval coalition in the area and conducted strikes on the Houthis in Yemen, along with Britain.