Yemeni Coast Guard Vessel Strikes Mine Near Mokha

Port of Mokha (file image courtesy Christosvs)

Published Mar 20, 2017 8:07 PM by The Maritime Executive

[Brief] On Friday, a Yemeni coast guard ship struck a mine near the port of Mokha (Al Mukha), and the ensuing blast killed two servicemembers and wounded eight. The injured included the vessel's master, Yemeni officials said.

Investigations continue, but the explosion appears to confirm experts' fears that Houthi rebels could be planting naval mines in the vicinity of Yemeni Red Sea ports. In response to the latest evidence of a maritime security threat, the U.S. National Geospatial Intelligence Agency broadcast a warning to mariners to exercise caution while transiting the area. The UKMTO advised that "masters should consider increasing vigilance, maintain the furthest possible distance from the Yemen coast, transit the Bab el Mandeb strait during daylight hours and use the western TSS wherever possible."

Mokha is not the only port affected. Last October, a Yemeni explosives ordnance disposal team removed a sunken vessel at the port of Al Mukalla that had been booby-trapped with explosives. The divers found and disposed of over half a ton of explosive material. Team leader Colonol Abu Saleh Al-Yafai said in a statement that the quantity of explosives was enough to cause damage to structures on shore if the vessel had been detonated.