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News / Nation & World

Houthi rebels strike U.S.-owned ship

No injuries, vessel continues journey after hit off Yemen

By JON GAMBRELL, Associated Press
Published: January 15, 2024, 6:29pm

JERUSALEM — Houthi rebels fired a missile, striking a U.S.-owned ship Monday just off the coast of Yemen in the Gulf of Aden, less than a day after they launched an anti-ship cruise missile toward an American destroyer in the Red Sea.

The attack on the Gibraltar Eagle, later claimed by the Houthis, further escalates tensions gripping the Red Sea after American-led strikes on the rebels. The Houthis’ attacks have roiled global shipping, amid Israel’s war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip, targeting a crucial corridor linking Asian and Mideast energy and cargo shipments to the Suez Canal onward to Europe.

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations, which oversees Mideast waters, said Monday’s attack happened some 110 miles southeast of Aden. It said the ship’s captain reported that the “port side of vessel hit from above by a missile.”

Private security firms Ambrey and Dryad Global told The Associated Press that the vessel was the Eagle Gibraltar, a Marshall Islands-flagged bulk carrier. The U.S. military’s Central Command later acknowledged the strike.

“The ship has reported no injuries or significant damage and is continuing its journey,” Central Command said.

Houthi military spokesman Brig. Gen. Yahya Saree claimed the attack in a recorded television address that aired Monday night.

“The Yemeni armed forces consider all American and British ships and warships participating in the aggression against our country as hostile targets,” he said.

The vessel is owned by Eagle Bulk Shipping, a Stamford, Conn.-based firm traded on the New York Stock Exchange. In a statement to The Associated Press, the company said the strike caused “limited damage to a cargo hold but (the ship) is stable and is heading out of the area.”

“All seafarers onboard the vessel are confirmed to be uninjured,” the firm said. “The vessel is carrying a cargo of steel products. Eagle Bulk management is in close contact with all relevant authorities concerning this matter.”

Satellite-tracking data analyzed by AP showed the Eagle Gibraltar had been bound for the Suez Canal, but rapidly turned around at the time of the attack.

Central Command said it detected a separate anti-ship ballistic missile launch toward the southern Red Sea on Monday, though it “failed in flight and impacted on land in Yemen.”

The U.S. Maritime Administration, under the Transportation Department, also issued a warning of a continuing “high degree of risk to commercial vessels” traveling near Yemen.

“While the decision to transit remains at the discretion of individual vessels and companies, it is recommended that U.S. flag and U.S.-owned commercial vessels” stay away from Yemen in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden “until further notice,” the advisory said.

Sunday’s missile launch toward the American warship also marked the first U.S.-acknowledged fire by the Houthis since America and allied nations began strikes Friday on the rebels following weeks of assaults on shipping in the Red Sea.

The Houthi fire in the direction of the USS Laboon, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer operating in the southern reaches of the Red Sea, Central Command said.

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