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Bulk Carrier Flooding After Surface Drone Attack in Red Sea

Protesters hold up rifles during a rally organized by the Houthis in support of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in Sanaa, Yemen March 22, 2024. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

Bulk Carrier Flooding After Surface Drone Attack in Red Sea

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June 12, 2024

By Tala Ramadan, Renee Maltezou and Lisa Baertlein

DUBAI/ATHENS, June 12 (Reuters) – Iran-allied Houthi militants on Wednesday took responsibility for small watercraft and missile attacks that left a Greek-owned cargo ship taking on water and in need of rescue near Yemen’s Red Sea port of Hodeidah.

The Houthis said the Tutor coal carrier was seriously damaged and vulnerable to sinking after they targeted the vessel with an unmanned surface boat, drones and ballistic missiles. 

“The impact of the (unmanned surface vessel) caused severe flooding and damage to the engine room,” U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) said of the attack, which was the Houthis’ first to use a boat successfully as a weapon. 

The Houthis control Yemen’s capital and most populous areas. They have attacked internationalshipping in the Red Sea region since November in solidarity with the Palestinians in the war between Israel and Hamas. They have sunk one ship, seized another vessel, and killed three seafarers in another attack. 

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations, which acts as a conduit between ship operators and military and security forces, earlier on Wednesday said the Liberian-flagged Tutor was taking on water and not under command of the crew after sustaining damage in its engine room. 

UKMTO said a small craft of white color collided with the cargo ship’s stern and that an “unknown airborne projectile” also struck the vessel. 

“It was hit twice by air and by sea. There are no reports of injuries,” a Greek ministry official said, on condition of anonymity. The Tutor was sailing to India when it was hit, that person said. 

The vessel’s manager was not immediately available for comment.

The Tutor loaded at the Port of Ust-Luga, Russia, on May 18 and discharged at Port Said, Egypt, on June 9, according to LSEG data. Its next scheduled destination was Aqaba, Jordan, according to that data. 

The Houthi attacks have upended global trade by forcing ship owners to reroute vessels away from the vital Suez Canal shortcut, and drawn retaliatory U.S. and British strikes since February. 

On Wednesday, the Houthis said they also carried out two joint military operations with Islamic Resistance in Iraq, targeting sites in Israel’s cities of Ashdod and Haifa. The latter group confirmed the operations.

The Houthi attacks continue while negotiators from the U.S., Egypt and Qatar attempt to mediate a ceasefire in the Gaza war, which began after Hamas killed more than 1,200 people and took more than 250 hostages in an attack on Israel on Oct. 7, according to Israeli tallies. 

Israel responded with an air, ground and sea assault on the Palestinian territory that has killed more than 37,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza health authorities.

(Reporting by Tala Ramadan in Dubai, Yannis Souliotis and Renee Maltezou in Athens, Enas Alashray and Yomna Ehab in Cairo, and Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles; editing by Ros Russell and Sonali Paul)

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2024.

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