Renewed Calls for Houthi to Release Crew and End Attacks

Houthi naval forces commanders visited the seized car carrier Galaxy Leader (Houthi Military Media)

Published Jun 19, 2024 3:25 PM by The Maritime Executive


The shipping industry is once again speaking out calling for action both to release crewmembers being detained as well as to stop the assaults on the freedom of navigation. The statements followed the news that the bulker Tutor sank on Tuesday and the Verbena continues to drift abandoned in the Gulf of Aden. 

Ship manager STAMCO sought to remind the world that after nearly 200 days the 25 crewmembers of the Galaxy Leader remain in captivity in Yemen. The assault in November 2023 was the first by the Houthi against shipping and the vessel is the only one detained by the militants, although Iran is also detaining several tankers and the MSC Aries along with the crews from those vessels.

“There is nothing to be gained by the Houthi in keeping the 25 crewmembers,” STAMCO wrote in its new statement. They highlighted that they are citizens of Bulgaria, the Philippines, Ukraine, Mexico, and Romania, and have nothing to do with any regional or local conflicts. They said that the governments had been trying to obtain the release of the crew to no avail.

At the same time, 14 of the leading shipping organizations and trade groups issued a new joint statement saying they were “appalled and deeply saddened” by the news of the crewmember missing on the bulker Tutor. The organizations “utterly condemn these assaults,” while calling for more action to protect the freedom of navigation and innocent crewmembers.

“This is an unacceptable situation, and these attacks must stop now,” the groups wrote in their statement. “We call for states with influence in the region to safeguard our innocent seafarers and for the swift de-escalation of the situation in the Red Sea. We have heard the condemnation and appreciate the words of support, but we urgently seek action to stop the unlawful attacks on these vital workers and this vital industry.”

Previously, the Secretary-General of the IMO also issued a video statement condemning the attacks including the one that killed an engineer on the Tutor and severely wounded a person on the Verbena

These calls come as the EUNAVFOR Aspides highlighted that it was marking four months since its formation to protect ships in the Red Sea region. Despite the efforts of the U.S., UK, France, the EU, and other forces, they have not been able to stop the Houthi attacks. The U.S. increased its efforts with new strikes to destroy Houthi radar installations after last week’s increased attacks which included the Tutor and Verbena