UK-registered cargo ship attacked by Yemen’s Houthi rebels 'at risk of sinking'

UK-registered cargo ship attacked by Yemen’s Houthi rebels 'at risk of sinking'

A UK-registered cargo ship that was attacked by Yemen’s Houthi rebels is now at risk of sinking, a spokesman for the militant group has said.

The Rubymar sustained “catastrophic” damage in the missile attack off the coast of Yemen, Houthi military spokesperson Yahya Sare’e said in a statement posted to social media site X on Monday.

The crew were forced to abandon the vessel but are safe, he said.

His statement continued: “The ship suffered catastrophic damages and came to a complete halt.

“As a result of the extensive damage the ship suffered, it is now at risk of potential sinking in the Gulf of Aden.”

Downing Street condemned Houthi attacks on shipping.

The UK’s Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) on Sunday said it had received a report of an incident 35 nautical miles south of Al Mukha, a town on Yemen’s Red Sea coast.

The ship, which it did not identify, was damaged after “an explosion in close proximity to the vessel,” UKMTO said, adding that “authorities are investigating”.

“Military authorities report crew have abandoned the vessel. Vessel at anchor and all crew are safe.”

The Prime Minister’s spokesman said on Monday: “Clearly we condemn any attacks by the Houthis against commercial civilian ships.”

The official said the HMS Richmond continues to patrol the Red Sea to help protect commercial shipping.

“As the PM has said, we will not hesitate to act to protect freedom of navigation and lives at sea,” he added.

The Iran-backed Houthis also claimed to have shot down a US drone in the port city of Hodeidah.

The ship is believed to be Belize-flagged, Lebanese-operated and UK-registered, and was travelling through the Bab el-Mandeb Strait connecting the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden when it was targeted.

British-owned vessel attacked in Red Sea
(PA Graphics)

Separately on Monday, the UKMTO and security firm Ambrey said another vessel, a Greek-flagged, US-owned bulk carrier, had come under attack in the Gulf of Aden, with the crew reported to be safe.

The UK and the US have carried out joint air strikes against Houthi rebels in recent weeks in order to stop attacks on commercial shipping in the Red Sea.

Since November, the Iran-backed militants have repeatedly targeted ships in the Red Sea in what they say is an effort to support Palestinians in the conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

They have often targeted vessels with tenuous or no clear links to Israel, imperilling shipping in a key route for trade between Asia, the Middle East and Europe.

The dangers have forced many vessels to divert around the southern tip of Africa instead of using the Suez Canal, increasing costs and lengthening delivery times.

The European Union on Monday launched a naval mission to help protect shipping against attacks in the Red Sea.