Houthi rebels escalate tensions with strike on US-owned ship in Gulf of Aden

NEW DELHI: In an escalation of tensions in the Gulf of Aden, Houthi rebels launched a missile strike on a US-owned ship just off the coast of Yemen on Monday. This attack follows a similar attempt by the Houthis to target an American destroyer in the Red Sea less than a day earlier.
The vessel hit, named the Gibraltar Eagle, was later claimed as a target by the Houthis, further intensifying the already volatile situation in the Red Sea region.This area is crucial for global shipping, linking energy and cargo shipments from Asia and the Middle East to Europe via the Suez Canal. The strike coincides with ongoing hostilities between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations reported that the attack occurred approximately 110 miles southeast of Aden, with the ship’s captain indicating a missile hit the vessel’s port side from above. Private security firms Ambrey and Dryad Global identified the ship as the Eagle Gibraltar, a Marshall Islands-flagged bulk carrier. The US military’s Central Command acknowledged the strike but reported no injuries or significant damage, stating that the ship is continuing its journey.
Houthi military spokesperson Brig Gen. Yahya Saree claimed responsibility for the attack in a televised address, saying, “The Yemeni armed forces consider all American and British ships and warships participating in the aggression against our country as hostile targets.”
Owned by Eagle Bulk Shipping, a Stamford, Connecticut-based company traded on the New York Stock Exchange, the Eagle Gibraltar sustained limited damage to a cargo hold but remains stable. The company confirmed that all crew members are uninjured and that the vessel, carrying steel products, is now moving away from the area.
Satellite data analyzed by AP showed the Eagle Gibraltar was originally bound for the Suez Canal but rapidly changed course following the attack. This incident comes amid a heightened warning from the US Maritime Administration regarding the “high degree of risk to commercial vessels” near Yemen.
The US administration has not yet indicated whether it will retaliate for these latest attacks. However, President Joe Biden has stated he “will not hesitate to direct further measures to protect our people and the free flow of international commerce as necessary.”
This recent strike raises concerns about the safety of maritime navigation in a key global trade route and adds complexity to the already tense situation in the Middle East, with potential implications for international relations and global commerce.
(With inputs from agencies)
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