Israeli Port Disclosed the Destination of Tanker Hit by Houthi Missile

Port of Ashdod terminals

Published Dec 12, 2023 1:33 PM by The Maritime Executive

After Yemen's Houthi rebel faction said that it would attack any ship headed to Israel, a major Israeli seaport kept a full list of all arriving ships on its public website, available for the public to view. The list included the Norwegian-flagged vessel Strinda; there is only one IMO-registered vessel by that name, and it was struck by a Houthi antiship missile on Monday evening.  

The port's traffic list was still available in cached form using Google Cache on Tuesday afternoon, and it gave Strinda's scheduled arrival date as the morning of January 4. Dozens of other vessels' names and future arrival dates were also listed.

Iran-backed Houthi fighters confirmed their responsibility for the attack on Tuesday, and a spokesman said that the group launched the missile after the crew of the Strinda "rejected all warning calls." He said that like the Israeli seaport, the group also had the impression that the Strinda was bound for Israel, and carrying a cargo of oil. 

On Tuesday, the shipowner told BBC that this understanding was incorrect. The Strinda's previous port of call was in Malaysia, and the owner said that the ship had picked up a cargo of palm oil for delivery to Italy.

The vessel is reported to be safe and the crew unharmed. Its AIS signal has disappeared from commercial tracking, but showed that the vessel continued to navigate northwards after the attack. 

Over the past five years, not one attack by an Iranian proxy or Iranian military force has resulted in the total loss of a merchant ship, though damage and (in a minority of cases) tragic harm to personnel have occurred. Iranian-controlled forces have used hand-placed mines, aerial drones and antiship missiles against tankers, car carriers and boxships, creating individual holes but not catastrophic damage.

By contrast, the 2016 Houthi missile strike on the ex-U.S. Navy transport Swift - an aluminum-hulled fast ferry - shredded and burnt the vessel beyond recovery. (The U.S. Navy has discontinued aluminum-hull procurement in future orders).