Two sailors killed after US attack on Houthis ship in

Two sailors killed after US attack on Houthis ship in Gulf of Aden | Houthis

A Houthi missile attack on a ship in the Gulf of Aden left two sailors dead and six others injured, U.S. officials said, the first fatalities among merchant vessel crew since the Houthis began attacking ships in waters off Yemen last year .

The officials told US news outlets that the crew of the MV True Confidence abandoned the ship after the attack claimed by the Houthis.

The British embassy in the Yemeni capital Sana'a, Posted on X: “At least two innocent sailors died. This was the sad but inevitable consequence of the Houthis' reckless firing of missiles at international ships. You have to stop.”

The bulk carrier was adrift with a fire on board after it was hit 50 nautical miles southwest of Aden at around 9:30 a.m. GMT on Wednesday, the ship's owner and operator said.

“The ship is adrift,” Liberian-registered owner True Confidence Shipping and Greece-based operator Third January Maritime Ltd said in a joint statement, adding that there is currently no connection with a U.S. company.

Marine safety company Ambrey said the ship had been hit and damaged, adding that a rescue operation was “underway, with some of the crew already in lifeboats.”

Houthi fighters in Yemen have repeatedly used drones and missiles against international merchant ships since mid-November, saying they are acting in solidarity with the Palestinians to oppose Israel's military actions in Gaza.

A number of ships have been damaged in such attacks, but Wednesday's deaths are the first among merchant vessels. Two U.S. Navy Seals drowned in waters off Somalia in January while trying to board an unflagged ship carrying Iranian weapons bound for the Houthis

The Yemen Data Project estimates that 11 civilian casualties were recorded in three separate US-led strikes against Houthi targets in Yemen in February.

The US and Britain launched Operation Poseidon Archer on January 12th. The project estimates that the number of Houthi attacks on shipping doubled in February compared to the previous month – at least 79 attacks compared to at least 33 in January.

Wednesday's incident came as the British Embassy in Yemen warned of the dire environmental consequences that could result from the Houthi sinking of the Belize-flagged, Lebanon-based airline Rubymar. The ship sank over the weekend after being adrift for nearly two weeks. Lloyd's List said outdated records may have led the Houthis and the British government to view the vessel as a British-owned vessel.

The increasing disruptions have led several shipping companies and oil companies to suspend or divert sailings from the key route bordering Yemen, which accounts for about 12% of global maritime transport.

Earlier this week, four of 15 critical submarine cables in the Red Sea were severed, with HGC Communications estimating that 25% of traffic was affected.

Recognizing that they need better information about the Houthis' military assets, London and Washington are drawing up plans to help train local naval forces to help control Yemen's territorial waters.

The Aden government is convinced that the Houthis will not stop attacks on ships in the Red Sea and the Bab al-Mandab Strait even if Israel's war on Gaza ends.

While the militia has said it will target ships with links to Britain, the US and Israel, shipping industry sources say all ships could be at risk.