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Houthis Hit Another Merchant Ship With a Bomb Boat

Location of the bomb boat attack (courtesy UKMTO)
Location of the bomb boat attack (courtesy UKMTO)

Published Jun 27, 2024 12:58 PM by The Maritime Executive

 

Another commercial vessel has been hit by one or more Houthi suicide drones in the Red Sea, according to the Royal Navy's UK Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) office and multiple maritime security consultancies. 

According to UKMTO, a vessel transiting the Red Sea was attacked by a waterborne improvised explosive device at 0645 GMT on Thursday morning. The incident occurred about 80 nautical miles southwest of Hodeidah, Yemen, an area of high activity for malicious Houthi operations. 

The vessel and the crew were reported to be safe, and the ship is under way to its next port of call. Western military forces are investigating the circumstances of the attack. 

In a statement, Houthi spokesman Yahya Saree identified the target vessel as the Greek-owned, Malta-flagged Panamax bulker Seajoy. He said that Houthi forces targeted the ship with multiple missiles, drones and an uncrewed surface boat, leading to a "direct and accurate hit." He claimed that the vessel was targeted because it called at a port in Israel, a violation of the Yemeni group's attempted embargo on Israeli maritime commerce. 

Seajoy's last received AIS position was in the Strait of Malacca on June 12, headed westbound. Her last declared destination was Durban, South Africa, and her AIS record shows no signs of a port call in Israel in the last 12 months, according to data from Pole Star

Houthi WBIEDs - remotely-controlled bomb boats - are a potent threat to shipping in the Red Sea. A similar device, carefully disguised as a small fishing vessel, struck and sank the bulker Tutor earlier this month. One crewmember was killed in the attack, and the rest of the crew abandoned ship. A crewmember on the bridge captured a video of the drone boat as it approached, as well as the aftermath of the explosion (below). 

 

Last weekend, U.S. forces identified and destroyed three WBIEDs in the Red Sea, suggesting a higher pace of activity for this class of Houthi devices than previously seen.