Yemen’s Huthi rebels have said they struck US and British ships in two attacks in the Red Sea, the latest among dozens of incidents that have disrupted global shipping.
The Iran-backed rebels, who control much of the war-torn country, have been targeting shipping in a campaign they say is in solidarity with Palestinians in the Israel-Hamas war.
Their attacks have triggered reprisals by US and British forces, including a wave of air strikes that hit dozens of targets late on Saturday.
Huthi spokesman Yahya Saree said the first attack today “targeted the American ship Star Nasia, while the other targeted the British ship Morning Tide”.
The Huthis “will carry out more military operations against all hostile American-British targets” in self-defence, Mr Saree warned on social media.
Security firm Ambrey had initially reported a drone attack on a British-owned cargo ship off Yemen but later said a projectile had targeted the Barbados-flagged vessel.
It was launched from a small boat sighted near the ship, Mr Ambrey said, adding that the projectile did not impact the ship but exploded nearby, causing minor damage.
There were no casualties among the crew, the British firm said.
British maritime security agency United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) said it had received a report of an incident off the rebel-held port city of Hodeida.
“The master stated that a projectile was fired at his vessel on the port side which passed over the deck, causing slight damage to the bridge windows,” UKMTO said, without identifying the vessel or the flag it was flying.
“The vessel and crew are safe,” it added, saying the ship was proceeding on its voyage as planned.
Over 30 attacks by Huthis since November – US
The Greek merchant marine ministry said the Star Nasia sustained material damage but that the hull did not appear to have been breached and no injuries were reported among the Filipino crew.
Ambrey, in a report on the incident, said a Marshall Islands-flagged, Greek-owned bulk carrier was targeted while transiting southwest of Aden.
The vessel, en route from the United States to India, reported an explosion 50m off its starboard side, Ambrey said, also adding that no injuries were reported.
“The vessel’s owner was listed on the US stock market,” the firm said. “Ambrey assessed it likely the vessel was assessed to be US-affiliated due to the vessel owner and US port call.”
UKMTO also said it had received a report of an explosion in close proximity to a merchant vessel transiting southwest of Aden. It said the vessel and crew were safe, without providing additional details.
The Huthis have launched more than 30 attacks on commercial shipping and naval vessels since 19 November, according to the US Department of Defense.
In a helicopter assault on that day, the Huthis captured the Galaxy Leader, an Israel-linked cargo vessel and its 25 international crew, which include at least two Bulgarian nationals.
They forced it to the Hodeidah port, where it has remained.
Bulgarian Transport Minister Georgy Gvozdeykov said that the sailors of the Galaxy Leader are “safe and sound” and would shortly return to Bulgaria.
“The information we have … on the sailors of the Galaxy Leader captured in the Red Sea is that they are well, safe and sound and are staying in a hotel,” the minister told private Bulgarian television station bTV.
The Huthi attacks have prompted some shipping companies to detour around southern Africa to avoid the Red Sea, a vital route that normally carries about 12% of global maritime trade.
Most trade between Asia and Europe usually passes through the Red Sea and the Suez Canal that leads to the Mediterranean Sea.
According to the International Monetary Fund’s PortWatch platform, total transit volume through the Suez Canal was down 37% this year by 16 January compared with the same period a year earlier.