Saudi Forces Thwart Bomb Boat Attack at Port of Yanbu

Yanbu (file image courtesy Saudi Ports Authority)

Published Apr 27, 2021 10:09 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Tuesday, Saudi forces reported that a bomb boat had been intercepted and destroyed near the port of Yanbu. 

Brig. Gen. Turki Al-Maliki, the spokesman for the Saudi Ministry of Defense, told The Gate that Saudi marine units had destroyed a "remotely piloted and booby-trapped boat" in the Red Sea near Yanbu. 

Initial reports from maritime security consultancy Neptune P2P Group indicated that black smoke was seen near the south entrance to the port. Dryad Global, a security firm based in the UK, suggested that the Saudi-owned tanker NCC Dammam may have been affected; however, the reports could not be independently confirmed. As of Tuesday evening, the Dammam's AIS signal showed her moored alongside in the port's inner harbor.

United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) said in a brief statement that it was aware of reports of an incident about two nautical miles off Yanbu and was investigating, but did not provide further details. 

Houthi rebel forces based in Yemen have conducted multiple bomb-boat and mine attacks on Saudi shipping over the course of the long-running Yemeni civil war. Saudi forces regularly report intercepting Houthi drone boats in the Red Sea, particularly near the Strait of Bab el-Mandeb, but rarely as far north as Yanbu. The port is the Saudi kingdom's main Red Sea oil export hub, and it lies more than 500 nm north of the Yemeni border - beyond the normal operating range of Houthi forces. The northernmost security incident on the Red Sea coastline in the last several years was a suspected mine attack on a product tanker at Jeddah in December 2020.