Houthis continue their assault on merchant shipping – two vessels abandoned

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The Houthi forces on the Yemen mainland have continued their violent actions against commercial and naval shipping passing along the Yemen coast of either the Gulf of Aden, the Bab al-Mandab Strait, or the lower Red Sea.

Last week, on Thursday 13 June, at around 13:45 local time, the Palauan-flagged, Ukrainian-owned, Polish-operated bulk cargo carrier Verbena (IMO 9522075) issued an urgent message that the ship had been struck and was on fire and that the crew were abandoning ship.

One of their crew was reported as seriously injured.

Verbena had been struck by two missiles fired by the Houthis. The ship was burning and the crew unable to contain or extinguish the fires. According to the US Central Command (CENTCOM). A merchant ship named Anna Meta was able to respond and reported that it had recovered the seafarers from the Verbena.

At the time of the distress call, the Iranian frigate IRIN Jamaran was eight nautical miles from the Verbena but reportedly did not respond.

The Liberian-flagged bulk carrier Tutor (IMO 9942627) which was struck by a Houthi uncrewed surface vessel (USV) while sailing in the Red Sea on Wednesday 12 June 2024, has been abandoned by her crew. The subsequent explosion resulted in severe engine flooding and has resulted in the vessel being abandoned by her crew.

A civilian seafarer on the ship is reported as missing. He was thought to have been in the engine room at the time of the explosion.

The crew were rescued by the USS Philippine Sea (CG 58) and partner forces from the Dwight D Eisenhower strike group which is operating in the area.

Tutor was sailing with a cargo of 80 000 tonnes of coal. Reuters has reported that the Tsavliris Salvage Group has been assigned to tow the bulker, using two vessels that were expected to arrive on scene this week on Monday morning and Tuesday evening respectively.

In a statement issued by US CENTCOM, “The Houthis claim to be acting on behalf of Palestinians in Gaza and yet they are targeting and threatening the lives of third country nationals who have nothing to do with the conflict in Gaza.”

The statement continued that the ongoing threat to international commerce caused by the Houthis is making it harder to deliver badly needed assistance to the people of Yemen as well as Gaza.

“The United States will continue to act with partners to hold the Houthis accountable and degrade their military capabilities.”

On 17 June, CENTCOM said in the past 24 hours, its forces had successfully destroyed four Houthi radars and one uncrewed surface vessel (USV) in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen. Additionally, CENTCOM forces successfully destroyed one Houthi uncrewed aerial vehicle (UAV) over the Red Sea.

Following the latest attacks, International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Secretary-General Arsenio Dominguez on 14 June said, “Once again, I am appalled at the fact that seafarers going about their work continue to be targeted and injured. I am truly saddened to learn that one crew member is currently unaccounted for on merchant vessel Tutor, following an attack on the ship in the Red Sea.

“My thoughts and those of IMO, are with the family of the crew member.

“I strongly condemn any type of attack against international shipping, regardless of its motivation or cause.

“I demand all governments and relevant organizations to provide maximum assistance to seafarers affected, and to spare no effort in finding a resolution to this crisis.

“This situation cannot go on. Everybody is going to feel the negative effect if international shipping is not able to trade as normal. But our commitment is, above all, safeguarding the safety of all seafarers.”

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