A Norwegian registered and operated oil and chemical products tanker, Strinda (IMO 9330771), was hit by a missile launched from Yemen at about midnight local time on Tuesday morning (12 December).
The 19 959-dwt tanker, which is loaded with a cargo of vegetable oil and bio-fuels, was about 60 nautical miles north of the Bab al-Mandeb Strait when the missile, assumed to be an Anti-Ship Cruise Missile (ASCM), struck the vessel, resulting in a fire.
The crew of 22, all Indian nationals, managed to put out the blaze. There were no injuries. The tanker suffered some damage, however.
Strinda is part of a fleet of tankers owned and operated by Bergen-based shipping firm, Mowinckel Rederi. The vessel was en route from Malaysia to Italy.
The attack is the latest in a series of missile and drone attacks on shipping passing the strait and all emanating from the Houthi-controlled section of Yemen.
The usual Houthi spokesman, Brigadier General Yahya Saree, did not immediately acknowledge the missile attack but later in the day confirmed the reports.
A Houthi spokesman said the MT Strinda was delivering oil to Israel, but the ship’s owners said it was headed to Italy with feedstock for biofuel.
The US destroyer USS Mason responded to the tanker’s call for assistance.
The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO), which provides security alerts to ships, reported a fire on an unidentified vessel about 15 nautical miles (28km) off the Yemeni port of Mokha.
There is no apparent link between the tanker Strinda or its owners and Israel.
On 12 December the IMO Secretary General Kitack Lim issued this statement: “The recent reports of threats made to commercial shipping in the Red Sea are extremely alarming and unacceptable. Commercial shipping should never be a collateral victim of geopolitical conflicts. Any attack on commercial shipping is contrary to international maritime law, including laws which protect the freedom of navigation. Any action which might adversely affect shipping engaged in international trade must be avoided.
“Ships, cargoes and seafarers must be protected at all times. I invite Member States to work together to ensure unhindered and safe global navigation, everywhere, as a prerequisite for maintaining the world’s supply chains, and in line with the framework of the Djibouti Code of Conduct.”
Note: The Djibouti Code of Conduct (DCoC) concerning the Repression of Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in the Western Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden was adopted in 2009.
The Jeddah Amendment, adopted in 2017, extends the scope of the Code, calling on the signatory States to cooperate to the fullest possible extent to repress transnational organised crime in the maritime domain, maritime terrorism, illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing and other illegal activities at sea.