Crew Forced to Abandon Ship After Houthi Missile Strike

( – According to news reports, Yemen’s Houthi rebels targeted a Belize-flagged cargo ship called “the Rubymar” with ballistic missiles in the Gulf of Aden near the Bab al-Mandab Strait. The attack forced the crew to abandon the ship due to catastrophic damage sustained.

The ordeal faced by the British registered cargo vessel marks one of the most devastating attacks to date by the Iran-backed Houthis, who have increasingly targeted Western vessels and merchant cargo ships since late 2023. The Houthis claim their actions are in solidarity with Palestinians amid the conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

In addition to the Rubymar, the rebel group also targeted two US cargo ships, the Navis Fortuna and the Sea Champion, in the same region. They also claimed responsibility for downing a US MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) in the Red Sea province of Hudaydah, alleging its involvement in hostile missions against Yemen on behalf of Israel.

The attacks have significantly impacted shipping in the region, with many companies opting to avoid the critical Bab al-Mandab Strait, which facilitates approximately 12% of global seaborne trade.

However, the international community has responded swiftly and decisively, with US and British forces launching airstrikes on Houthi-controlled areas of western Yemen.

In other developments, the UK Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) agency reported another incident involving a vessel south of Mocha’s Yemeni Red Sea port.

According to maritime security firm LSS Sapu and data provider Lloyd’s List Intelligence, the Rubymar was carrying a cargo of “very dangerous” fertilizer when two missiles hit it. Fortunately, all 24 crew members, hailing from the Middle East and Southeast Asia, were safely repatriated with the assistance of the Djibouti Port Authority and a passing vessel.

These attacks have raised concerns about the use of unconventional weaponry by the Houthis, such as unmanned underwater vessels (UUVs) and unmanned surface vessels (USVs).

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