Houthis Strike US-Owned Ship in Gulf of Aden

Houthis Strike US-Owned Ship

16th January 2024

Report: Houthis Strike US-Owned dry bulk ship

In a tense escalation, Houthi forces in Yemen launched an attack on the US-owned and operated dry bulk ship Gibraltar Eagle on Monday, striking it with an anti-ship ballistic missile. While no injuries or significant damage were reported, the incident has sent shockwaves through the global shipping industry, raising concerns about the safety of critical maritime arteries and potentially disrupting vital trade flows.

The Gibraltar Eagle, operated by US-based Eagle Bulk Shipping, was sailing approximately 100 miles off the coast of Yemen in the Gulf of Aden when it was hit. US Central Command confirmed the attack but refrained from specifying the type of projectile used. Eagle Bulk Shipping acknowledged the incident, initially describing it as an attack by an “unidentified projectile” and reporting limited damage to the cargo hold.

This attack comes just one week after US and British forces conducted a series of airstrikes against Houthi targets in retaliation for previous attacks on commercial vessels in the region. Since the U.S. and British strikes, the Houthis, who control most of Yemen’s west and north as well as the capital city of Sanaa, have vowed to keep up their attacks in the Red Sea. Since November, the Houthis, who are supported by Iran, have launched 29 missile attacks on shipping in an effort to aid the Palestinians in Gaza.

The arrival of the Iranian spy ship M/V Behshad in the Gulf of Aden on January 12 increased the risk of attacks in the region, according to security firm EOS Risk Group, based in the UK.The Houthis on Yemen’s shores are probably receiving targeting information from MV BEHSHAD.

The ongoing conflict in Yemen has already thrown a wrench into global shipping patterns. The Houthi control of key ports and the threat of missile attacks have forced commercial vessels to navigate alternative routes, adding time and cost to maritime operations. This latest incident risks further disrupting crucial shipping lanes in the Red Sea, a vital artery for the movement of oil, goods, and people between Asia, Africa, and Europe.

Source: Hindustan Times

Potential Impact on Global Shipping

  • Route Diversions: Increased risk of attacks may lead to shipping companies rerouting vessels away from the Yemeni coast, adding days and potentially weeks to voyages, impacting delivery times and increasing logistical costs.
  • Insurance Costs: The heightened risk of attacks in the Red Sea will likely lead to higher insurance premiums for ships traversing the region, further adding to the financial burden on shipping companies.
  • Disruptions to Trade Flows: The potential slowdown or rerouting of shipping could disrupt the flow of vital goods, including oil, food, and other essential commodities, potentially impacting global supply chains and consumer prices.
  • Geopolitical Tensions: The Houthi attack on a US-owned ship raises the specter of a wider regional conflict drawing in major powers. Increased military presence in the Red Sea could further destabilize the region and add to shipping risks.

International Response and Measures

The international community has condemned the Houthi attack and called for restraint. The UN Security Council is expected to discuss the incident in coming days.

Possible measures to address the situation include:

  • Diplomatic efforts: Increased international pressure on the Houthis to cease attacks on commercial vessels and engage in a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Yemen.
  • Enhanced maritime security: Increased naval patrols and surveillance in the Red Sea to deter further attacks and protect shipping lanes.
  • Escort services: Providing military escorts for high-value or vulnerable vessels passing through the Yemeni coast.

The assault by the Houthis on the Gibraltar Eagle serves as a clear reminder of how susceptible international shipping is to local conflicts. Even though the Red Sea may be the only area affected right now, the maritime sector and international trade could be significantly impacted in the long run. De-escalating the Yemeni conflict, improved maritime security, and diplomatic efforts are all necessary components of a multipronged strategy to tackle this problem. The future of secure and effective international shipping is in jeopardy, and navigating this tight and dangerous situation will require international cooperation.

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