Trafigura Tanker on Fire After Being Hit by Houthi Missile in Gulf of Aden

UKMTO places the attack 60 nm southwest of Aden, Yemen (UKMTO)

Published Jan 26, 2024 1:47 PM by The Maritime Executive


A Houthi missile has struck a product tanker operated for Trafigura, the commodity trading firm with the company confirm the vessel is on fire. It is the second report of attacks by the rebel group against tankers today. UK Maritime Trade Organization also confirmed the reports saying assistance is being provided.

UK-based digital solutions provider Vanguard was first to report that the Marshall Islands-flagged Marlin Luanda was struck during the second attack. The vessel is a 110,000 dwt product tanker traveling from Morocco and reported having transited the Suez Canal last weekend. The AIS signal shows the vessel heading to Singapore. Unconfirmed reports are that the vessel was carrying a load of highly flammable naphtha loaded in Russia.

UK Maritime Trade Organizations confirmed that it received a report saying the vessel was on fire and requesting assistance. They put the location as 60 nautical miles southeast of Aden, Yemen, similar to the location of the first report of an explosion earlier in the day observed by the Marlin Luanda.

A spokesperson from Trafigura later confirmed to The Maritime Executive that the Marlin Luanda, a petroleum product tanker vessel operated on behalf of company, was struck by a missile as it transited the Red Sea. They reported that "Firefighting equipment on board is being deployed to suppress and control the fire caused in one cargo tank on the starboard side." The company said it remains in contact with the vessel and the top concern is the safety of the crew.  

The Houthi spokesperson Brigadier General Yahya Saree also released a taped video statement in which he says, "Yemeni naval forces carried out a targeting operation on the British oil ship (Marlin Luanda) In the Gulf of Aden, using a number of appropriate naval missiles, the strike was direct, and resulted in the burning of the vessel. Yemeni Armed Forces persist with their military operations: enforcing a blockade on Israeli navigation in the Red and Arabian seas until a ceasefire is achieved in Gaza, and food and medicine are allowed in to the besieged Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip."

The USS Carney as well as other coalition vessels were dispatched to provide assistance. U.S. Central Command is reporting that the vessel was struck by a single anti-ship missile. There are multiple unconfirmed reports and a broad range of purported photos (many clearly false) circulating on social media.

Earlier today it was the same vessel, the Marlin Luanda, that relayed information on the earlier attack. In the first instance, they reported an explosion in the air approximately 200 to 300 meters above the waterline of another tanker, the Panama-flagged Achilles. The explosion occurred about one nautical mile away from the tanker. The projectile did not make contact with either vessel, according to Vanguard. A French warship was reported to be patrolling in the area at the time.

The Achilles, a 109,000 dwt crude oil tanker, was also southbound in the Red Sea. The vessel's AIS signal shows that it was sailing from Primorsk, Russia, and displaying the message “No Link With Israel.” This tanker is reportedly under contract to an Indian shipper.

U.S. Central Command had also reported earlier on Friday shooting down a missile fired from Yemen that was heading toward the USS Carney. Early on Saturday local time, the U.S. reported it destroyed yet another missile on a launcher ready to be fire by the Houthis.

EURONAVFOR has been cautioning ships over the escalating attacks and saying the Houthis appeared to be threatening a broader array of ships beyond those with known ties to Israel, the U.S., or the UK. They also noted that the Houthis “might be capitalizing on outdated information regarding ship ownership in certain instances.”