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Ships shot at in the Red Sea

Ships shot at in the Red Sea
Sam Chambers December 13, 2023

Ships were shot at while passing near Yemen today in the latest acts terrorising seafarers transiting the Red Sea, a region that has become massively unstable since the Houthi militia decided to enter the Israeli war on the side of Hamas a month ago.

A Malta-flagged bulk carrier was approached by a speedboat with armed individuals 52 miles offshore Hodeidah, Yemen. Prior to the approach, the speedboat was known to have initiated gunfire on a Marshall Islands-flagged chemical/products tanker in the vicinity. Private armed security team onboard the tanker responded with up to 10 rounds of fire, according to updates from UK maritime security firm, Ambrey.

Like other vessels in recent contact with Houthi assailants, the tanker was hailed by Yemeni forces to divert to Hodeida, something it ignored.

While initially, the threat posed by the Houthis extended to Israeli-flagged, -owned, and -operated, and -managed vessels, Ambrey now assesses vessels with such links to Israel as many as three years old to be at heightened risk as well from misidentification. On Saturday, the Houthis declared all vessels destined for Israeli ports as potential targets.

Commercial shipping should never be “a collateral victim of geopolitical conflicts,” Kitack Lim, the outgoing secretary-general of the International Maritime Organization, said on Tuesday, adding that he urged member countries to work together to ensure “unhindered and safe global navigation.”

The Houthis have attacked and seized several Israeli-linked ships in the Red Sea in recent weeks. On Monday, a Norwegian-owned chemical tanker was struck by a cruise missile while passing through the Bab-el-Mandeb strait.

The US has been discussing creating a naval convoy with allies, while also seeking out ways to limit Houthis’ access to cash.