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Houthi Militants Fire Missiles at Greek LPG Carrier

Houthi missiles on parade
File image courtesy Houthi Military Media

Published Mar 19, 2024 4:54 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Tuesday, Yemen's Houthi militant faction claimed that it launched an attack on an LPG carrier in the Red Sea, the latest in a monthslong string of strikes on merchant shipping.

Houthi spokesman Yahya Saree said in a statement that the group attacked the "American" vessel Mado with "a number of suitable naval missiles." He did not claim that the attack hit its target. 

The attack was announced Tuesday, but may have occurred earlier in the week. AIS data shows that Mado has already exited the Gulf of Aden and is on its way to its destination. 

The Mado is a 55,000 dwt liquid petroleum gas carrier, and is operated by a well-known Greek specialist in LPG shipping. It is flagged with an open registry headquartered in the U.S. state of Virginia, but has no other obvious ties to the United States. Houthi forces have previously targeted vessels with commercial or cargo connections to Greece, Lebanon, Iran, Russia, and even their own nation, Yemen. 

The cargo aboard LPG carriers is typically propane or butane, and both are highly flammable. There is at least one historical example of a rocket strike on an LPG carrier: the Iranian attack on the Gaz Fountain during the Iran-Iraq war. This attack ruptured one of the vessel's tanks, sparking a large butane fire. The crew successfully abandoned ship, and the vessel (and almost all of the cargo) survived the incident. 

To date, the Houthis have damaged half a dozen vessels, sinking one and killing three crewmembers. The group's actions have received international condemnation, including formal censure from the UN Security Council, but Houthi leaders say that they will continue attacking shipping until Israel ceases its operations in Gaza.