Greek bulk carrier Laax damaged after being struck by three Houthi missiles

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The Yemeni-based Houthis have struck again. This time the victim is a Greek-owned and operated bulk carrier sailing in the lower Red Sea, which was hit on 28 May.

Notices from several sources, including the US Central Command (Centcom), the UK Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO), and British security company Ambrey, report that the Marshall Islands-flagged bulker Laax (IMO 9512355) was sailing in ballast to the Iranian port of Imam Khomeini after discharging her cargo of about 60 000 tons of soya beans at the Turkish port of Ceyhan on 21 May.

As the vessel, built in 2012, passed 33 nautical miles north-west of the coffee port of Al Mukha (Mocka or Mocha), she came under attack, with three missiles striking the vessel.

Centcom advises the Laax was able to continue her voyage despite the missile strikes, and that there were no injuries on board. Centcom’s report said that a total of five missiles were launched from Yemen on that day, but without mentioning what happened to the other two.

British security firm Ambrey reported the incident adding the bulker sustained some damage to one of the cargo holds and that the ship was taking on water and had developed a list.

United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) issued an advisory saying the “Master of an MV reports a further missile attack. The vessel has sustained further damage. The crew are safe, and the vessel is proceeding to their next port of call”.

Further reports from Greece say the bulker was sailing to a port nearby (possibly Djibouti) to assess the extent of the damage.

A statement released by French naval forces based in the UAE that patrol the Middle East said that a team from Djibouti had inspected the damage caused by the attack, which it said involved both drones and missiles, and found no remaining dangerous explosives onboard the ship. Images released by the French navy showed damage both at the waterline of the vessel, as well as on its deck.

In a televised speech, the Houthis said they targeted the Morea and Sealady in the Red Sea, the Alba and Maersk Hartford in the Arabian Sea and the Minerva Antonia in the Mediterranean.

IMO condemnation

Meanwhile, member States of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) have called for an immediate end to ongoing attacks on ships and seafarers transiting through the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.

In a resolution adopted at HQ in London, IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee condemned the attacks as ‘illegal and unjustifiable’, posing a direct threat to the freedom of navigation in one of the world’s most critical waterways, while causing major disruptions to regional and global trade.

It is the first resolution to be adopted by IMO Member States on this issue since the Houthis seized mv Galaxy Leader in November 2023. Since then, around fifty dangerous and destabilising maritime attacks have been carried out, costing the lives of several seafarers while the twenty-five crew members of Galaxy Leader remain hostage. The Committee called for their immediate and unconditional release.

The IMO Resolution stated: ‘The Houthis’ reckless actions are putting innocent lives at risk, disrupting the delivery of urgently needed humanitarian aid to those who need it most, increasing the cost of this humanitarian assistance, and destabilising the region.’

The Committee called for peaceful dialogue and diplomacy to resolve the crisis. In particular, it urged any party that may have influence with the Houthis to use that influence to seek an end to the attacks. It further emphasised that all 176 IMO Member States are obligated to prevent the direct or indirect supply of arms and related materiel to the Houthis, under the targeted UN arms embargo.

Echoing the resolution, IMO Secretary-General Arsenio Dominguez said: “IMO Member States are unequivocal in their condemnation of these reckless attacks. The maritime industry sustains the supply chains that are the lifeline of nations and populations around the world – innocent seafarers and commercial ships trading essential supplies should be free to navigate, unhindered by geopolitical tensions.

“I call on all governments and relevant organisations to provide maximum assistance to seafarers affected, and to spare no effort in finding a resolution to this crisis.”

The resolution, adopted on 23 May, encouraged ship operators and vessels to carefully assess the nature and unpredictability of recent events, as well as the potential of continued attacks in the area, when considering transit plans.

Written by Africa Ports & Ships, with input from defenceWeb. The original article can be found here.