June 16, 2024

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A fuel tanker burned after a Houthi missile attack in the Gulf of Aden

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Yemen's Houthi rebels on Friday fired a missile that set fire to a ship carrying Russian refined oil for commodity trading company Trafigura, as Iran-backed militants intensified attacks on commercial and military ships in the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea.

The Houthi attack on the oil products tanker Marlin Luanda in the Gulf of Aden was the first to hit a commercial ship since the United States and the United Kingdom jointly launched a second set of strikes against the militants, who have caused major disruption to global trade. By targeting a critical road.

Earlier on Friday, the Houthis fired an anti-ship ballistic missile at the US ship USS Carney in the Gulf of Aden. US Central Command said Carney successfully shot down the missile.

A statement by Houthi spokesman Yahya Saree said that the group targeted the ship Marlin Luanda, which it described as a “British oil ship.” While the vessel was operated on behalf of Trafigura, its registered owner is Oceonix Services, a company based in London.

The attack appears to have been the most damaging so far of more than 30 attempts by the Houthis against commercial ships since November. Most caused only minor damage or were small fires that were quickly extinguished.

Leading commodity trading company Trafigura said the Marlin Luanda ship was “hit by a missile.”

“Firefighting equipment is deployed on board the ship to extinguish and control the fire that broke out in one of the cargo tanks on the right side,” the Singapore-based company said.

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“We remain in contact with the ship and are monitoring the situation carefully. Military ships are in the area to provide assistance.” The company added that the ship was carrying “Russian-origin” naphtha, an oil product, which it said was purchased at a price lower than the country’s maximum oil price. Determined by international sanctions.

The UK Maritime Trade Operations Office said that five hours after the accident, which occurred at 4.42pm London time, the ship was still burning.

The organization added, “Coalition warships are present and supporting the ship.” “All crew members are reported safe.”

The Houthis say they are acting in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza after Israel in October declared war on Hamas, the armed group that controls the Strip.

The Yemeni rebels initially said they were only targeting ships linked to Israel, although many of those affected had no clear connection to the Jewish state.

Since then, the Houthis have expanded their target list to include ships linked to the United States and the United Kingdom. Many shipping industry executives have assumed, based on the Houthis' promise not to attack Russian and Chinese ships, that ships carrying goods heading to or from Russia or China would enjoy some degree of protection.

Attacks on ships off the coast of Yemen prompted many shipping companies to flee the region.

Container ship arrivals to the region in recent weeks have fallen by 90 per cent from levels in early November, according to shipping services group Clarksons.

Instead, most take the longer route around the Cape of Good Hope, which has significantly increased journey times and costs.

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On Wednesday, the Houthis fired at least three missiles toward two US-flagged container ships, the Maersk Detroit and Maersk Chesapeake, as they headed through Bab al-Mandab at the mouth of the Red Sea.

The ships, part of a fleet of 20 US-flagged vessels carrying almost exclusively US government cargo, were accompanied by the US Navy ship USS Gravely. Gravely shot down two missiles, while another fell into the sea.

Maersk, the world's second-largest container shipping line, said it would no longer send its US-flagged fleet through the region. Other ships of the Copenhagen-based company have been traveling through the Cape of Good Hope since December.

The joint American and British attacks on Monday against the Houthis were aimed at reducing the group's efforts to disrupt shipping through the Red Sea, and included striking eight sites in Yemen.

The United States and the United Kingdom first launched strikes against the Houthis earlier this month.