Ship hit by missiles left adrift south of Yemen

A vessel in the approaches to the Red Sea appears to be in distress after an attack by several projectiles launched by Houthis from southern Yemen. The various reports emerging from the region are not perfectly clear, however it seems that the crew have abandoned the ship and it is now drifting.

The vessel concerned is a bulker named the Rubymar, operating under the flag of Belize but Greek owned, although registered in the UK and believed to be operated by a Lebanese company. The ship was, according the US ‘Central Command’, hit by two anti-ship ballistic missiles south-west of the port of Aden. The level of damage is unknown, however ‘Central Command’ stated that the “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 MV Rubymar”. The crew were taken to Djibouti. The ship still seems to be afloat and there are suggestions that the owners are looking to arrange a tow to Djibouti.

This seems to be the first example of a vessel in real distress after being hit by missiles. Most ships that have been struck have sustained minor damage, often to the containerised cargo.

There are suggestions that the Houthis are deploying more powerful weapons than previously. The US Central Command stated on the 17th February that the Houthis were using not only ballistic and cruise missiles but also “unmanned surface vessels” and “unmanned underwater vessels”. The latter in particular is a novel development although it is unknown how much of threat they pose to merchant shipping. Large merchant vessels are difficult to sink with projectiles for the reason that they are very large. Even penetrating the hull is difficult. As illustrated by attacks in the Red Sea over the past few weeks, the main threat has been that of fire breaking out on the vessel.

Whatever the changing nature of the weapons being used, the conflict in the seas around Yemen show no sign of resolution. 

Author: Thomas Cullen

Source: Ti 

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