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Greek Bulker Hit and Taking On Water After Multiple Houthi Attacks

Red Sea
Map from UKMTO showing the location of the suspected surface drone attack

Published Jun 12, 2024 12:13 PM by The Maritime Executive

 

A Greek-owned bulker was hit by multiple attacks by the Houthi while sailing south in the Red Sea bound for India earlier today. The vessel is reporting that it is “not under command,” awaiting assistance from the collation forces in the region.

The situation is still unfolding in the Red Sea, with reports saying the Tutor (82,357 dwt) was approximately 66 nautical miles southwest of Hudaydah, Yemen near the northern end of the Bab el-Mandeb when the first attack took place. The UK Maritime Trade Organizations reports that the master of the vessel said they were struck on the stern by a small craft. It is described to be 5 to 7 meters (16 to 23 feet) in length and is believed to be a surface drone.

Analysts are noting that this is likely the first successful attack by the Houthi using one of their surface drones. The crafts carry significant payloads that could cause extensive damage to a vessel.

After that explosion, there were unconfirmed reports of a fire in the engine room. The master told UKMTO that the bulker which is 751 feet (229 meters) in length was taking on water. The Tutor was built in 2022 and is registered in Liberia. The vessel is managed by Evalend Shipping of Athens, Greece. U.S. Central Command confirmed the attack saying the vessel had most recently docked in Russia. Reports are that it was bound for India.

Officials from Greece’s Ministry of Shipping told media outlets that the vessel was later struck twice from the air. UKMTO confirmed that the master reported they were hit for a second time by an “unknown airborne projectile.”

No additional details have been released at this time. It is unclear how many crew are aboard and if any have been injured. The Houthi in their statement said the vessel was targeted because of the shipping company's entry into banned ports (i.e. Israel). 

A report by the International Maritime Organization prepared for the UN Security Council and seen by the Middle Eastern Eye news outlet reportedly tallies the count of vessels attacked by the Houthi at 28 in the first five months of 2024. Nine of the vessels were registered in the Marshall Islands with the others distributed across Panama, Malta, Greece, Singapore, Portugal, Palau, and other flags. Three U.S. vessels (likely the Maersk Line Ltd. containerships) are reportedly in the tally. 

The Houthis have increased the number of attacks in recent days.Tonight they again claimed targeting the Israeli ports of Haifa and Ashod. They said they were working in collaboration with the Iraqi Islamic Resistance. There, however, were no confirmed reports of any disturbances in either port area.

U.S. Central Command reported yesterday downing of two anti-ship cruise missiles, followed tonight by a report that U.S. forces destroyed three anti-ship cruise missile launchers in a Houthi controlled area of Yemen and one uncrewed aerial system (UAS) launched from Yemen over the Red Sea. They also reported that the Houthis launched two anti-ship ballistic missiles over the Red Sea. 

The Italian frigate Virginio Fasan also repelled a UAV attack on June 9, its second in three days while protecting merchant ships. The first instance was in the Red Sea and the latter one in the Gulf of Aden.