Houthi attacks continue as Italian destroyer gets into the action

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There has been little let-up in the ongoing drama off the Yemeni coast in both the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, with further attacks by US and British forces against missile or drone sites in Houthi-held parts of Yemen, and continued launching of drones and missiles against shipping passing along the coast.

Within a day of reports of the sinking of the bulk carrier Rubymar, came news of another successful ‘strike’ by the Houthis, this time on a Mediterranean Shipping Company box ship, the MSC Sky II (IMO 9162277).

The Liberian-flagged 2,169-TEU container vessel, owned by Thorsky Navigation Ltd care of MSC Shipmanagement Ltd of Cyprus, was struck by two missiles while sailing 91 nautical miles south east of Aden, at 12:50 GMT on 4 March, according to UK Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO).

The master of the MSC vessel reported two explosions, one some distance off the port side of the ship and the other onboard his vessel which resulted in a fire in a container and some damage but fortunately no casualties.

The Houthis have since claimed a successful hit on what they referred to as an Israeli ship. A short while later the vessel’s AIS signal stopped broadcasting its position.

MSC Sky II was sailing between Singapore and Djibouti at the time. The ship was previously named Santa Felicia in 2002 and Thorsky from August 2014 and was renamed MSC Sky II in January 2022.

Italian Navy into the action

The attack on the MSC Sky II came a short while after a number of missiles were fired at patrolling naval ships off the Yemeni coast.

One of these, a drone, was aimed at the Italian Navy destroyer, ITS Caio Duilio (D554), which the Italians intercepted and shot down while the drone was still some six kilometres away.

The Caio Duilio is in the area on behalf of the European Union’s Eunavfor Aspides naval mission, to provide protection for merchant shipping attempting to navigate through the lower Red Sea and GoA area.

The Italian minister of defence, Guido Crosetto, has described the attempt by the Houthis as a breach of international law and a danger to maritime security.

IMO condemns attacks

Shortly after Noon on 4 March the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) announced that it is working with partners to provide assistance to the Government of Yemen following recent sinking of the Rubymar in the Red Sea area.

Speaking at the opening of the tenth session of the IMO’s Sub-Committee on Ship Systems and Equipment (SSE 10) that day at IMO HQ in London, the Secretary-General, Mr. Arsenio Dominguez said: “In view of the situation in the Red Sea, I want to urge for the immediate release of the Galaxy Leader and its crew.

“The first impact of this crisis, before it has an impact on trade, falls on seafarers. It is the responsibility of this Organization and its Member States to protect all seafarers.

“I reiterate my firm belief that the exercise of navigational rights and freedom by merchant vessels must be respected. I join the calls for caution and restraint to avoid further escalation of the situation.

“The recent sinking of the vessel Rubymar represents an additional risk for the environment and maritime security. We are in contact with the Government of Yemen and other UN organizations to provide necessary assistance.

“IMO will continue to contribute to enhancing the safety of seafarers and transit of vessels of all States through the Red Sea and will closely monitor the situation, in collaboration with Member States and partners from the industry.”

Written by Africa Ports & Ships and republished with permission. The original article can be found here.