US-owned ship hit by missile off Yemen in suspected Houthi attack

US-owned ship hit by missile off Yemen in suspected Houthi attack
An anti-ship ballistic missile fired by Iran-backed Houthis struck a Marshall Islands-flagged, US-owned and operated container ship
3 min read
15 January, 2024
Ship struck by missile off Yemen in Gulf of Aden is a US-owned vessel [Getty]

A missile struck a US-owned cargo ship off the coast of Yemen on Monday, a British security agency and maritime risk company said, a day after Houthis fired a cruise missile at an American destroyer.

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations security agency, run by the country's Royal Navy, reported a "vessel hit from above by a missile" in the Gulf of Aden. It did not provide further details.

According to Ambrey, a British maritime risk company, a fire broke out on board the Marshall Islands-flagged, US-owned bulk carrier, but it remains seaworthy and there were no injuries.

United States Central Command identified the ship as the M/V Gibraltar Eagle.

The incident will further heighten shipping and security fears for the volatile region where the Iran-backed Houthis have for weeks fired drones and missiles toward vessels they deem Israeli-linked in the adjacent Red Sea.

US and UK forces responded on Friday with strikes against scores of rebel targets in Yemen, which the Houthis said would not deter them.

Three missiles were launched by the Houthis, Ambrey said, with two of them not reaching the sea.

Ambrey "assessed the attack to have targeted US interests in response to US military strikes on Houthi military positions in Yemen", the report said, adding that the vessel was "assessed to not be Israel-affiliated".

"The impact reportedly caused a fire in a hold. The bulker reportedly remained seaworthy, and no injuries were reported," it said.

The ship was transiting the International Recommended Transit Corridor, a passage of the Gulf of Aden that is patrolled for pirates, when it was struck, Ambrey added.

There was no immediate statement from the rebels, but Houthi military and a Yemeni government source told French news agency AFP that the insurgents fired three missiles on Monday.

The US military said Sunday its forces shot down a cruise missile fired at an American destroyer warship from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen. It appeared to be the first such attack on an American destroyer.

The Houthis say their attacks on Red Sea shipping are in solidarity with Gaza, where the occupied territory has been at war with Israel for more than three months.

Around 12 percent of global trade normally passes through the Bab al-Mandeb Strait, the Red Sea entrance between southwest Yemen and Djibouti, but the rebel attacks have affected trade flows.

Washington last month announced a maritime security initiative, Operation Prosperity Guardian, to protect maritime traffic in the area. But the Houthis have kept up attacks despite several warnings.