Tanker's Crew Abandons Ship After Severe Flooding off Yemen

Courtesy UKMTO

Published Jun 23, 2024 4:28 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Sunday morning, a merchant ship sustained serious flooding at a position near the eastern mouth of the Gulf of Aden, just off Yemen's eastern coast. The crew have safely abandoned ship, according to the Royal Navy's UK Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) office. 

The incident occurred at about 0840 hours on Sunday morning, about 100 nm southeast of Nishtun. According to UKMTO, the flooding could not be contained, and the master ordered the crew to abandon ship. They were rescued by a good samaritan vessel, and the vessel was left adrift at 14 31 N 053 08 E, about 130 nautical miles due south of the Yemeni-Omani border. 

UKMTO has not named the vessel involved, and described the casualty as a "SOLAS incident." The organization made no mention of a kinetic attack, and the incident site is located far from the areas where Yemen's Houthi rebels have concentrated their attacks on merchant shipping. 

The Houthis have sunk two vessels and damaged dozens more since launching their anti-shipping campaign last fall. The group claimed two attempted attacks on Sunday: a drone boat attack on the bulker Transworld Navigator in the Red Sea, and a missile attack on the tanker Stolt Sequoia in the Indian Ocean. Both ships' last reported AIS signals were far away from Nishtun.

Spokesman Yahya Saree claimed that an unmanned drone boat attack on the Transworld Navigator reached its target. The claim could not be verified. 

U.S. Central Command has confirmed an attack on the Transworld Navigator, but not a waterborne drone. According to CENTCOM, the vessel was struck by a suspected unmanned aerial drone at about 0400 hours on Sunday. "The crew reported minor injuries and moderate damage to the ship, but the vessel has continued underway," the command said in a statement. It is believed to be the fourth attack that Houthi forces have launched on this specific Greek-owned vessel. 

CENTCOM also reported an active weekend for Houthi threats. American forces destroyed no fewer than three Houthi unmanned bomb boats in the Red Sea, and they detected the launch of three Houthi anti-ship ballistic missiles. No hits were observed.

The rising number of explosive drone boats on the water could pose a serious risk to shipping. These improvised devices were responsible for the attack on the bulker Tutor earlier this month, which resulted in the death of a crewmember in the engine room. The survivors were rescued, but the vessel was ultimately lost.