DUBAI: Yemen’s Houthi rebels said on Tuesday they had struck US and British ships in two attacks in the Red Sea, the latest among dozens of incidents that have disrupted global shipping. Houthi spokesperson Yahya Saree said the first attack on Tuesday “targeted the American ship Star Nasia, while the other targeted the British ship Morning Tide”.

The Houthis “will carry out more military operations against all hostile American-British targets” in self-defence, Saree warned on X, formerly Twitter.

Security firm Ambrey had initially reported a drone attack on a British-owned cargo ship off Yemen but later said a projectile had targeted the Barbados-flagged vessel.

It was launched from a small boat sighted near the ship, Ambrey said, adding that the projectile did not impact the ship but exploded nearby, causing minor damage. There were no casualties among the crew, the British firm said.

Yemeni fighters have launched over 30 attacks on vessels since Nov 19

British maritime security agency UKMTO said it had received a report of an incident off the rebel-held port city of Hodeida.

“The master stated that a projectile was fired at his vessel on the port side which passed over the deck, causing slight damage to the bridge windows,” United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations said, without identifying the vessel or the flag it was flying.

“The vessel and crew are safe,” it added, saying the ship was proceeding on its voyage as planned.

Trade disruption

The Greek merchant marine ministry said the Star Nasia sustained material damage but that the hull did not appear to have been breached and no injuries were reported among the Filipino crew.

Ambrey, in a report on the incident, said a Marshall Islands-flagged, Greek-owned bulk carrier was

targeted while transiting southwest of Aden. The vessel, en route from the United States to India, reported an explosion 50 metres off its starboard side, Ambrey said, also adding that no injuries were reported. “The vessel’s owner was listed on the US stock market,” the firm said.

“Ambrey assessed it likely the vessel was assessed to be US-affiliated due to the vessel owner and US port call.” UKMTO also said it had received a report of an explosion in close proximity to a merchant vessel transiting southwest of Aden. It said the vessel and crew were safe, without providing additional details.

The Houthis have launched more than 30 attacks on commercial shipping and naval vessels since Nov 19, according to the Pentagon.

In a helicopter assault on Nov 19, the Houthis captured the Galaxy Leader, an Israel-linked cargo vessel and its 25 international crew, which include at least two Bulgarian nationals. They forced it to the Hodeidah port, where it has remained.

Published in Dawn, February 7th, 2024

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