A Greek bulk carrier was hit by a missile off the coast of Yemen, private maritime risk company Ambrey reported on Tuesday, January 16, a day after a similar attack on an American ship blamed on Yemen's Houthi rebels. The Maltese-flagged ship was “hit by a missile while transiting the southern Red Sea heading north,” northwest of the Yemeni town of Saleef, Ambrey said, adding that the bulk carrier continued on its way.
Britain's maritime safety agency, UKMTO, reported an “incident” northwest of the Yemeni city of Al-Salif, without giving details. According to Ambrey, the bulk carrier was heading to the Suez Canal. That ship and others in the same fleet have been stopped in Israel since Oct. 7, she said.
A source in the Greek Navy Ministry who communicated with the company that owns the ship clarified that it was the bulk carrier Zografia, which had 24 crew members on board. “It suffered only limited damage after the shock” and “remains in seaworthy condition,” he assured, confirming that the attack took place 76 miles northwest of Yemen (about 140 kilometers) and that there were no Greek sailors on board the ship and that the shooting did not cause any injuries. The Zografia was en route from Vietnam to Israel and “damage assessment is being carried out in Suez,” the same source said.
Yemen's Houthi rebels, backed by Iran, have stepped up attacks in the Red Sea in recent weeks on ships they suspect are linked to Israel, claiming they are acting in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza are confronted with the war between the Islamist movement Hamas and Israel.
Area through which 12% of world trade passes
The attacks in this crucial territory, which carries 12% of global trade, prompted the United States and the United Kingdom to attack rebels in Yemen on Friday and Saturday. They responded on Monday by firing a missile at an American cargo ship, without causing any injuries or major damage.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the oil company Shell will no longer allow its ships to sail through the Red Sea until further notice. According to the business newspaper, the group made this decision last week taking into account these threats to its crews and the risk of an oil spill in the region in the event of an attack. A Shell spokesman contacted by Agence France Presse declined to comment.
The “dangerous escalation” in the Red Sea will affect the transport of liquefied natural gas (LNG) “like all other commercial goods,” Qatar Prime Minister Mohammed Ben Abderrahmane Al Thani warned on Tuesday during the World Economic Forum in Davos. The Houthi attacks have forced many shipping companies to avoid the area and take a longer route around the tip of Africa, at the expense of higher transportation costs and longer delivery times.
According to the Bloomberg news agency, at least five Qatari-operated LNG ships were stranded off the coast of Oman on Monday en route to the strategic Bab Al-Mandab Strait, which separates the Arabian Peninsula from the Horn of Africa.
Also read: Who are the Yemeni Houthis involved in the Hamas-Israel war?