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Indian Navy's guided missile destroyer INS Visakhapatnam responds as smoke rises from Marlin Luanda, at the location given as Gulf of Aden. Handout via REUTERS

Indian Navy's guided missile destroyer INS Visakhapatnam responds as smoke rises from Marlin Luanda, merchant vessel, after the vessel was struck by a Houthi anti-ship missile, at the location given as Gulf of Aden, in this handout picture released January 27, 2024. @indiannavy via X/Handout via REUTERS

Missile Attack on Bulk Carrier in Gulf of Aden Leaves Crew Member Severely Injured

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 23167
June 13, 2024

Houthis escalate attacks on merchant shipping, striking two ships in as many days.

The U.S. Central Command says a crew member of a bulk carrier was severely injured in a missile attack in the Gulf of Aden on Thursday. The incident comes after another successful attack on a different bulk carrier on Wednesday that has left one crew member missing and the vessel with severe damage.

CENTCOM said the attack targetted the M/V Verbena, a Palauan-flagged, Ukrainian-owned, Polish-operated bulk carrier that was carrying wood construction material from Malaysia to Italy. The ship was struck by two anti-ship cruise missiles fired by the Iranian-backed Houthis, causing damage and fires on board that the crew is currently battling.

The injured mariner received medical attention after being evacuated to a nearby partner force ship by aircraft from the USS Philippine Sea (CG 58).

The United Kingdom Maritime and Trade Operations (UKMTO) reported earlier that a merchant ship had been hit by two projectiles, resulting in a fire. A third projectile later struck the vessel, causing minor damage. The crew, however, was able to control the fire and the vessel is now underway.

CENTCOM later confirmed the Verbena was hit for the second time by a ballistic missile launched from a Houthi-controlled area of Yemen into the Gulf of Aden.

A tally of maritime attacks in the Middle East tracked by The Washington Institute reveals more than seventy attacks reported in the southern Red Sea and western Gulf of Aden since November.

Martin Kelly, Head of Advisory at EOS Risk Group, wrote on “X” that the Houthis have escalated their attacks and improved their accuracy in recent days, with already an equal number of attacks so far this month as reported in all of May. He pointed out that six of the nine attacks so far this month were conducted in the last six days alone.

“Moreover, the current accuracy and hit success rate in the Gulf of Aden is at least questionable considering the group couldn’t hit a barn door since TRUE CONFIDENCE on 6 March (99 days ago). Since 8 June (5 days) the Houthis have a hit rate of 100% (4/4),” he said.

The attack on the Verbena comes after the Houthis on Wednesday conducted their first successful attack using an unmanned surface vessel (USV), striking the Liberian-flagged, Greek-owned bulk carrier Tutor in the Red Sea, causing severe flooding and damage to the engine room. The vessel was reported as being “not under command.” One crew member is now confirmed missing.

On June 8th, successful missile attacks were carried out against the M/V MSC Tavvishi and M/V Norderney. Both ships sustained minor damage but were able to continue.

The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) released a report on Thursday highlighting that Houthi attacks on shipping are placing pressure on international trade, with at least 65 countries and 29 different energy and shipping firms directly affected by the attacks.

In a statement today, CENTCOM condemned the Houthis’ actions, stating that they threaten regional stability and endanger the lives of mariners.

“The Houthis claim to be acting on behalf of Palestinians in Gaza and yet they are targeting and threatening the lives of third country nationals who have nothing to do with the conflict in Gaza. The ongoing threat to the ability to safely transit the region caused by the Houthis makes it harder to deliver critical assistance to the people of Yemen as well as to Gaza. U.S. CENTCOM will continue to act with partners to hold the Houthis accountable and degrade their military capabilities,” CENTCOM said.

An update from CENTCOM said that in the past 24 hours, forces have destroyed multiple Houthi assets in Yemen and the Red Sea, including an air defense sensor, an uncrewed surface vessel, two patrol boats, and an uncrewed aerial system. 

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