Missile fire strikes US-owned ship off the coast of Yemen

The captain of Gibraltar Eagle reported that the port side of vessel hit from above by a missile in the Gulf of Aden

By AP

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Houthi fighters and tribal supporters hold up their firearms during a protest against US-led strikes on Houthi targets, near Sanaa. — Reuters
Houthi fighters and tribal supporters hold up their firearms during a protest against US-led strikes on Houthi targets, near Sanaa. — Reuters

Published: Mon 15 Jan 2024, 6:35 PM

Last updated: Mon 15 Jan 2024, 7:28 PM

A missile fired from Yemen struck a US-owned ship just off the coast of Yemen in the Gulf of Aden, less than a day after Yemen's Houthi rebels fired an anti-ship cruise missile toward an American destroyer in the Red Sea, officials said.

Suspicion immediately fell on the Iranian-backed Houthis, though the rebels did not immediately acknowledge carrying out the assault on the Gibraltar Eagle. It marked the latest attack roiling global shipping amid Israel's war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

The Houthis have targeted that crucial corridor linking Asian and Mideast energy and cargo shipments to the Suez Canal onward to Europe over the war, attacks that threaten to widen that conflict into a regional conflagration.

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations, which oversees Mideast waters, said Monday's attack happened some 177 kilometres southeast of Aden. It said the ship’s captain reported that the “port side of vessel hit from above by a missile”.

Private security firms Ambrey and Dryad Global told The Associated Press that the vessel was the Eagle Gibraltar, a Marshall Islands-flagged bulk carrier.

The ship is owned by Eagle Bulk, a Stamford, Connecticut-based firm traded on the New York Stock Exchange. The firm did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Satellite-tracking data analysed by the AP showed the Eagle Gibraltar had been bound for the Suez Canal, but rapidly turned around at the time of the attack.

The US Navy’s Mideast-based 5th Fleet did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Yemen’s Houthi rebels did not acknowledge any attack, though they have fired missiles previously in that area.

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Earlier on Sunday, Houthi rebels fired an anti-ship cruise missile toward an American destroyer in the Red Sea but a US fighter jet shot it down in the latest attack roiling global shipping amid Israel's war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip, officials said.

The attack on Sunday marked the first US-acknowledged fire by the Houthis since America and allied nations began strikes on the rebels on Friday following weeks of assaults on shipping in the Red Sea.

The Houthis have targeted that crucial corridor linking Asian and Mideast energy and cargo shipments to the Suez Canal onward to Europe over the Israel-Hamas war, attacks that threaten to widen that conflict into a regional conflagration.

The Houthi fire on Sunday went in the direction of the USS Laboon, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer operating in the southern reaches of the Red Sea, the US military's Central Command said in a statement.

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The missile came from near Hodeida, a Red Sea port city long held by the Houthis, the US said.

“An anti-ship cruise missile was fired from Iranian-backed Houthi militant areas of Yemen toward USS Laboon,” Central Command said. “There were no injuries or damage reported."

The first day of US-led strikes on Friday hit 28 locations and struck more than 60 targets with cruise missiles and bombs launched by fighter jets, warships and a submarine. Sites hit included weapon depots, radars and command centres, including in remote mountain areas, the US said.

Shipping through the Red Sea has slowed over the attacks. The US Navy on Friday warned American-flagged vessels to steer clear of areas around Yemen in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden for 72 hours after the initial airstrikes.


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