Tanker Engulfed in Flames after Houthi Missile Strikes in Gulf of Aden

MT Marlin Luanda Tanker attack

Report: Tanker in Flames after Houthi Missile Strikes

27th January 2024

Chaos erupted in the vital Gulf of Aden shipping lane when a British-owned oil tanker was struck by a Houthi missile, igniting a fire that cast a menacing shadow over international maritime trade. The targeted vessel, the Marshall Islands-flagged MT Marlin Luanda, owned by UK-based Oceanix Services and chartered to Trafigura, was transiting the Red Sea when the attack occurred on Friday evening.

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) swiftly confirmed the incident, reporting it 60 nautical miles southeast of Aden. According to a statement received by Trafigura, the missile strike impacted one of the Marlin Luanda’s cargo tanks, sparking a blaze that the crew battled heroically using onboard firefighting equipment. Thankfully, all 25 crew members were reported safe and transferred to lifeboats as a precautionary measure.

The MT Marlin Luanda, a large tanker with a capacity of 109,991 deadweight tonnes , was carrying a cargo of Russian oil, further adding to the tense geopolitical backdrop of the attack. While the specific destination of the oil remains unclear, its disruption on this crucial artery for global energy transportation is undeniable.

MT Marlin Luanda
Source: Vessel finder

The incident gained further intrigue when the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) verified that they had received a distress call from the Marlin Luanda and reported damage that seemed to be caused by a missile strike. Just hours before the tanker attack, the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Carney, which was cruising in the area, successfully intercepted and shot down an incoming anti-ship ballistic missile launched from Yemen, sparking fears of a more extensive Houthi operation.

Yemen’s civil war, now in its eighth year, has seen the Houthis, backed by Iran, increasingly target shipping in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. This brazen attack on a prominent commercial vessel, regardless of its cargo’s origin, marks a dangerous escalation of the conflict, threatening the free flow of vital goods through the region.

The implications of this incident extend beyond immediate safety concerns. The disruption of tanker traffic, particularly for Russian oil, could contribute to further disruptions in the global energy market. Additionally, the increased risk of piracy and attacks on shipping in the Gulf of Aden could drive up insurance costs and deter vital commercial activity, impacting economies reliant on international trade.

The burning tanker on the horizon of the Gulf of Aden serves as a stark reminder of the fragilities of the global economy and the human cost of prolonged conflict. The international community must work together to navigate these turbulent waters and ensure the peaceful passage of commerce and life within this vital international artery.

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