Houthi missile strikes US merchant ship

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A Houthi anti-ship ballistic missile struck a US-owned and operated cargo ship on Monday 15 January, US Central Command said in a statement.

The vessel, Gibraltar Eagle, a 199-metre long, 32 metre wide bulk carrier owned and operated by US-owned Eagle Bulk, sustained minor damage. No injuries have been reported by Central Command, and the ship has continued its journey.

The 64 000-dwt bulk carrier ship is carrying a cargo of steel products and was approximately 100 miles offshore in the Gulf of Aden when the missile struck. The vessel was heading from South East Asia (South Korea) towards the Suez Canal and Mediterranean.

“As a result of the impact the vessel suffered limited damage to a cargo hold but is stable and is heading out of the area. All seafarers onboard the vessel are confirmed to be uninjured,” the company statement said, adding that it was in “close contact with all relevant authorities.”

The Houthis claimed responsibility for the attack, in response to “British-American aggression” and pledged to continue attacking shipping “until the aggression stops and the siege on the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip is lifted”.

“The naval forces of the Yemeni Armed Forces, with the help of God Almighty, carried out a military operation targeting an American ship in the Gulf of Aden, with a number of appropriate naval missiles, and the hit was accurate and direct,” the Houthis said in a statement.

The incident was initially reported by the UK Maritime Trade Organisation, which reported it had been hit 175 km south-east of Aden.

The attack comes days after a combined US and UK air and missile strike was carried out against selected Houthi sites in Yemen on 11 January. Assets used by the British and American forces included warship and submarine-launched Tomahawk cruise missiles and aircraft.

US aircraft and missiles stuck a reported 60 targets at 16 sites in Yemen, including “command-and-control nodes, munitions depots, launching systems, production facilities and air defence radar systems.”

The attacks came after several urgent warnings were made to the Houthi movement to desist from launching further attacks on legitimate shipping crossing the Red Sea, which has become a threat to the economies of numerous countries and forcing ships to divert the long way around the Cape of Good Hope.

Military and political analysts suggest Thursday’s attacks on Houthi positions would make no immediate difference and that Houthis will continue harassing shipping crossing the Red Sea.

The US launched a further strike against Houthi militants on Friday 12 January, according to US Central Command, targeting a radar site. This was in response to the launch earlier in the day of an anti-ship missile fired at a ship in the Gulf of Aden that fell harmlessly into the water.

Monday’s missile attack is the 29th Houthi attack on commercial shipping using drones and missiles since mid-November.

Written by Africa Ports & Ships and defenceWeb.