Marshall Islands-flagged tanker reports explosions off Yemen’s coast: Third merchant vessel attack in 48 hours recorded

Cairo, Egypt – A Marshall Islands-flagged liquefied petroleum gas tanker experienced two explosions near the ship while sailing off the coast of Yemen’s port city of Hodeidah, marking the third attack on merchant vessels in the past 48 hours, a British security firm reported Friday.

Reports indicated that the master of another merchant vessel in the same area also witnessed an explosion off the vessel’s starboard side, according to the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations. Verification of whether both incidents involved the same ship remains unclear.

The attacks, believed to be carried out by Iran-aligned Houthi militants in Yemen, have targeted international commercial shipping in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden since mid-November. The militants have claimed these actions in support of Palestinians against Israel’s ongoing conflict in Gaza, disrupting global shipping routes and causing companies to seek alternate, longer routes around Africa.

Despite the recent attacks, no damage or injuries to crew members were reported on the vessels involved in the earlier incidents. In response, the United States and Britain have launched strikes against Houthi targets to deter further assaults on shipping vessels.

Late Thursday, the U.S. military disclosed that Houthi rebels had fired two anti-ship ballistic missiles towards the Gulf of Aden and two missiles towards the Red Sea from Yemen. Fortunately, no injuries or damage were reported to any U.S. or coalition ships as a result of these missile launches.

Early Friday, the U.S. military’s Central Command announced that they had successfully intercepted and destroyed nine anti-ship missiles and two drones in regions of Yemen controlled by the Houthi rebels, further highlighting the escalating tensions in the area. The ongoing attacks on merchant vessels in vital shipping lanes continue to pose a threat to international maritime trade, prompting increased military responses to safeguard shipping routes in the region.