Tanker Attacked By Speedboat Gunfire And Missiles Amid Yemeni Houthi Warnings

Per maritime reports, gunmen on a speedboat opened fire on a tanker in the Red Sea off the coast of Yemen on Wednesday, threatening the trade channel after Yemeni Houthi forces advised vessels not to sail to Israel.

Per Ambrey, a Britain-based maritime security company, and other reports, the speedboat also approached a second commercial ship in the same vicinity, but it did not assault it.

In a related development, a U.S. defence official in Washington reported that in response to allegations of an attack on a commercial vessel, the U.S. Navy destroyer dubbed Mason on Wednesday reportedly shot down a Houthi drone that had been launched from Yemen and was travelling toward it.

Tanker
Image for representation purpose only

According to the U.S. official, Houthis attacked the commercial vessel Ardmore Encounter with skiffs before Yemen fired two missiles that went straight for the ship. The Ardmore Encounter recorded no casualties or damages and carried on with its mission.

The operator and owner of the Ardmore Encounter, Ardmore Shipping Corp., confirmed that the ship was attacked while sailing through the Red Sea. The crew was all safe and accounted for, and no one entered the ship. The vessel was granted military support during the attack, the organization stated in a statement. It is still fully functioning, has no damage or lost cargo, and is not thought to be in immediate danger.

By launching missiles at Israel and endangering vessels in the heavily trafficked Bab al-Mandab Strait, which is located near Yemen near the southern entrance of the Red Sea, the Houthi group, which is affiliated with Iran, has attempted to support its Palestinian ally Hamas in the Gaza conflict.

The most recent occurrences along the important maritime channel off Yemen’s coast were not immediately attributed to any one party. The Houthis are still targeting foreign ships that they believe are associated with Israeli nationals or interests.

Jakob Larsen, the head of safety and security at maritime group BIMCO, warned Reuters that there are significant and worrisome safety consequences for international shipping. It is a blessing that no mariners have perished to date. Israel declared that the world’s shipping channels needed to be protected.

Ambrey stated that the chemical tanker named Ardmore Encounter, flying the flag of the Marshall Islands, reported an “exchange of fire” with a speedboat that occurred 55 nautical miles off Hodeidah. The speedboat shot as it approached. It stated that three missiles were aimed at the tanker.

The private armed security group (abbreviated the PAST) onboard the vessel displayed arms, and, when they did, the speedboat’s occupants started fire at a distance of 300m to 400m, Ambrey reported.

Through firing back, the PAST could repel the attack. The speedboat continued to fire back and then pulled away. Two missiles were fired, according to a security source who wished to remain anonymous. One was shot down by an anti-missile battery, while the other crashed into the ocean.

Ambrey explained that the tanker was hailed by someone posing as the Yemeni Navy, who asked it to change direction. However, a nearby warship encouraged the ship to stay on the way.

In order to reassure commercial shipping, the U.S., British, and other navies are part of the International Maritime Security Construct (abbreviated the IMSC), and their operational arm, Coalition Task Force (the CTF) Sentinel, operates in the region. Ambrey noted that the speedboat approached a bulk carrier that was flying the flag of Malta.

Based in Sanaa, the north of a nation decimated by years of conflict, the Houthi organization has begun launching attacks on ships it claims are Israeli-owned or are en route to Israel. It has made it difficult for them to cross the Bab al-Mandab Strait.

After claiming that they had attacked a Norwegian tanker using a missile earlier in the day, an influential Houthi leader issued a warning to cargo vessels in the Red Sea on Tuesday to steer clear of Israel.

A ship was followed in the Arabian Sea for approximately 90 minutes, roughly 90 nm off Duqm, by five or six small boats carrying machine guns set on their bows, based on a report from Britain’s Maritime Trade Operations (abbreviated UKMTO) agency. Ships were instructed by the UKMTO to travel cautiously and to report any unusual behaviour.

Reference: Reuters

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