Central Park oil tanker (archive)

Israeli-linked oil tanker seized in Gulf of Aden


Sun, 26-11-2023 05:21 PM, Aden

Aden (South24) 

Global maritime security and intelligence firm Ambrey reported today that an “unidentified force” had seized an oil tanker linked to Israel off the coast of Aden.

The Associated Press quoted Ambrey as saying that the Central Park chemical tanker, owned by Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer through his company Zodiac Maritime, was seized in the Gulf of Aden.

It was not definitively clear who was behind the attack, but Ambrey said that the Iran-linked Houthis had previously threatened to attack the ship if it did not divert toward the port of Hodeidah, which they control.

A US warship warned the Central Park not to ignore the Houthi threats.

According to Ambrey, the attackers boarded the Central Park near the shores of the coastal city of Aden (the current capital of the internationally recognized Yemeni government).

Ambrey stated that another ship in the area had reported “the approach of eight people on two boats wearing military uniforms.” This warning was also relayed to ships in the area by the British military’s United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations.

The Central Park departed Morocco and crossed the Suez Canal on November 21st, before stopping its navigation system on November 22nd, as reported by Ambrey. 

Central Park flies the Liberian flag, according to navigational websites. Israeli channel Kan 11 denied that there were Israeli citizens on board the tanker.

The Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth said that the Central Park had a crew of 22 people onboard and was carrying a full shipment of phosphoric acid.

They also report that Zodiac Maritime has formed a crisis management team in London to handle the incident.

The ship is manned by a multinational crew consisting of Russian, Vietnamese, Bulgarian, Indian, Georgian and Filipino citizens, and headed by a Turkish captain, according to the newspaper.

This incident is the latest in a series of recent maritime attacks against Israeli assets in the wider region, after the container ship CMA CGM Symi, owned by an Israeli billionaire, was attacked on Friday by a suspected Iranian drone in the Indian Ocean.

A US defense official told the Associated Press that there were suspicions that an Iranian Shahed-136 drone, armed with explosives, targeted the ship.

On November 19th, the Houthi militia seized the Galaxy Leader cargo ship, partly linked to Israeli businessman Rami Ungar, in the Red Sea, and took it to the port of Hodeidah.

On October 12th, South24 Center warned of potential attacks by the Houthis on Israeli ships in the Red Sea and Bab al-Mandab as part of their military escalation against Tel Aviv.

Related: The Significance of the Latest Houthi Threats Against Israel

The news center said, "It is not unlikely that the Houthis will attack ships and marine tankers belonging to Israel, especially those coming from the east to the port of Eilat through the Bab al-Mandab Strait, whether through it directly or through other extremist groups".

The President of the Southern Transitional Council, Aidrous Al-Zubaidi, in an interview with British newspaper The Guardian on September 20th, warned of the threats posed by Iran and the Houthis to naval vessels in South Yemen.

Al-Zubaidi said that any bad political agreement in Yemen means that "Iran, through the Houthis, will control the oil wells in [...] South and the Bab al-Mandab commercial road, through which billions of dollars of oil flow."

South24 Center

South YemenAdenIsraeloil tankerBab al-MandabHouthisShipRed SeaCentral ParkZodiac MaritimeAmbrey