Rubymar ship (Credit: Vessel Tacker)

Houthis escalate attacks in Gulf of Aden


Mon, 19-02-2024 05:27 PM, Aden

Aden (South24) 

The Yemeni Houthi militia has escalated its naval attacks in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, as the European Union approved the deployment of joint military forces to protect international navigation in the region, under the name ‘Operation Aspides'.

Today, the military spokesman for the Houthis, Yahya Sarea, said in a post on X that they had  “targeted a British ship in the Gulf of Aden, Rubymar, with a number of appropriate naval missiles”, and that it “suffered catastrophic damages and came to a complete halt”.

“As a result of the extensive damage the ship suffered, it is now at risk of sinking in the Gulf of Aden. During the operation, we made sure that the ship’s crew exited safely," Sarea added.

Sarea also claimed that they had shot down an American MQ-9 Reaper drone in the coastal province of Hodeidah on the Red Sea, something that US forces have not yet acknowledged.

The Financial Times reported that the Rubymar was carrying a shipment from the United Arab Emirates to Bulgaria. According to navigational information reviewed by South24 Center, the ship attacked by the Houthis was traveling from Ras Al-Khair in Saudi Arabia toward Bulgaria, and flying the flag of Belize.

China’s Xinhua News Agency quoted a source in the Yemeni Coast Guard as saying that the Rubymar had sunk in the Gulf of Aden as a result of the attack.

On X, the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) said it had received reports of another incident involving a ship in the Gulf of Aden.

The UKMTO post said an explosion had occurred in close proximity to a ship 100 nautical miles east of Aden, before another explosion in the air left “shrapnel and damage to paintwork”. The ship and its crew are reportedly safe.

Data from the British maritime security firm Ambrey and the specialized Marine Traffic website showed that dry bulk carrier ship the ‘Sea Champion’, which was carrying corn from Argentina towards the port of Aden, was the one attacked by the Houthis.

Local sources told the South24 Center that the sound of an explosion that rang out hours ago in the Mukeiras district of Al-Bayda Governorate likely came from the launch of a missile toward the Gulf of Aden. Mukeiras was formerly a part of the Southern Abyan governorate before 1990, when unity between the South and North was declared, but is currently under Houthi control.

These attacks came hours after US Central Command announced yesterday evening that it had launched five “self-defense strikes” against three mobile anti-ship cruise missiles, an underwater unmanned naval vehicle (UUV), and an unmanned surface vessel (USV), in Houthi-controlled areas.

The command center said this was the first notable Houthi use of an underwater drone since the attacks began on October 23.

Houthi attacks have decreased over the past week amid regular US-UK strikes on the militia's missile sites prepared for launch.

Today, European Union foreign ministers agreed to deploy the naval military mission ‘Aspides’ to confront Houthi attacks against ships.

The German Press Agency (dpa) said that the naval mission, named after the ancient Greek word meaning shield, involves sending European warships and airborne early warning systems to the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden and the surrounding waters.

According to the agency, Aspides vessels will only issue orders to fire on militants if they attack first, and will not be allowed to fire pre-emptively. The operations command is set to be in the Greek city of Larissa.

South24 Center

South YemenNorth YemenYemenHouthisRed SeaShipAttacksAmbreyUKMTORubymar