Sunday, December 31, 2023

U.S. Navy Destroys Three Houthi Boats, Kills Crews

Following on yesterday's "Maersk Ship Hit by Missile in the Red Sea", the same ship was attacked again, this time in an apparent boarding and hijacking attempt.

From Singapore's Straits Times, December 31:

Maersk pauses Red Sea sailings after Houthis attack S’pore-flagged container ship twice 

Iranian-backed Houthi militants attacked a Maersk container vessel with missiles and small boats, prompting the company to pause all sailing through the Red Sea for 48 hours, Maersk said on Dec 31.

The crew of the Maersk Hangzhou crew was safe and there was no indication of fire on board the vessel, which was fully manoeuvrable and continued its journey north to Port Suez, Maersk said.

The attack was the latest by Houthi rebels in Yemen, who have been targeting vessels in the Red Sea to show their support for Palestinian armed group Hamas fighting Israel in Gaza.

The attacks have disrupted world trade, with major shipping companies taking the longer and costlier route around the Africa’s Cape of Good Hope rather than through the Suez Canal.

The Red Sea is the entry point for ships using the Suez Canal, which handles about 12 per cent of global trade and is vital for the movement of goods between Asia and Europe.

The United States launched Operation Prosperity Guardian on Dec 19, saying that more than 20 countries had agreed to participate in the efforts to safeguard ships in Red Sea waters near Yemen.

In response, Maersk said on Dec 24 it would resume sailings through the Red Sea.

However, attacks have continued and US allies have proven reluctant to commit to the coalition, with nearly half not declaring their presence publicly.

Maersk, one of the world’s major cargo shipping companies, said on Dec 31 it would delay all transits through the area for 48 hours, after the Maersk Hangzhou was struck by a missile at around 1730 GMT (1.30am Singapore time) on Dec 30 about 100km south-west of Al Hodeidah, Yemen.

A US warship shot down another two anti-ship ballistic missiles fired from Houthi-controlled areas in Yemen, according to the US Central Command (Centcom).

Later at around 0330 GMT on Dec 31, the same ship was attacked by Houthi rebels in four small boats.

An attempt by the attackers to board the vessel was averted after its security team and helicopters from the USS Eisenhower and USS Gravely, responding to distress calls, returned fire, according to statements by Maersk and Centcom.

The helicopters sank three of the militant boats, with no survivors, while the fourth boat fled the area, Centcom said in the statement....


And from the U.S. Navy: