Ship hit by Houthis in Gulf of Aden sinking

Seafarers at increasing risk, demand better conditions.

LONDON/CAIRO (Reuters): Yemen’s Houthi militants said on Monday they had attacked the Rubymar cargo vessel in the Gulf of Aden which was at risk of sinking.

This raised the stakes in their campaign to disrupt global shipping in solidarity with Palestinians in the Gaza war.

The Iran-aligned Houthis have made repeated drone and missile strikes since November in the Red Sea and Bab al-Mandab Strait. U.S. and British forces have responded with multiple strikes on Houthi facilities but have so far failed to halt the attacks.

Houthi military spokesperson Yahya Sarea said in a statement that the Rubymar’s crew was safe but that the ship was badly damaged and at risk of sinking. The Belize-flagged, British-registered and Lebanese-managed vessel was attacked on Sunday.

The Houthis had also shot down a U.S drone over the Yemeni port Hodeidah, Sarea added.

The U.S. military’s Central Command (CENTCOM) confirmed that two anti-ship ballistic missiles were launched from Houthi controlled areas of Yemen and targeted the Rubymar on Feb 18.

“One of the missiles struck the vessel, causing damage. The ship issued a distress call and a coalition warship along with another merchant vessel responded to the call to assist the crew of the Rubymar,” CENTCOM said on X.

Security firm LSS-SAPU, in charge of safety on the Rubymar, said earlier the crew evacuated after two missiles hit. They were picked up by another commercial ship which took them to Djibouti.

“We know she was taking in water,” LSS-SAPU told Reuters in comments by phone. “There is nobody on board now … The owners and managers are considering options for towage.”

So far, no ships have been sunk nor crew killed from the attacks in a sea lane accounting for about 12% of global maritime traffic. Some companies have chosen to go the longer and more expensive route via the southern tip of Africa.

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