Cargo Ship Reports Fire and One Injury After Missile Strike

drone takedown
France reported shooting down two drones this morning launched from Yemen (Amree Francaise)

Published Feb 22, 2024 12:26 PM by The Maritime Executive


A small general cargo ship sailing in the Gulf of Aden was hit by one or possibly two missiles and sustained some damage as the Houthis have vowed to escalate their attacks against shipping associated with Israel, the U.S., and the UK. Details of the incident are conflicting but EUNAVFOR is reporting that there was a fire aboard the vessel and that one person was injured.

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations and U.S. Central Command each acknowledged the attack on a vessel named Islander (26,446 dwt) registered in Palau. The first UKMTO reports said the vessel was 70 nautical miles southeast of Aden, Yemen when it was attacked by two missiles resulting in a fire onboard. They later revised the report to the more standard “sustained minor damage,” statement.

CENTCOM said there were two anti-ship ballistic missiles fired at 8:30 a.m. and 9:45 a.m. local time. They acknowledged “one minor injury and damage.” Both sources are saying the vessel was continuing its voyage.

The security consultants Ambrey and Diaplous each reported the vessel had been struck. According to their accounts, the Islander diverted its course by 90 degrees which led to some media reports saying “Blazing Ship Veers Across the Gulf of Aden.”

The Houthis later issued a statement taking credit for the attack. Their so-called social media spokesperson Yahya Saree posted a message acknowledging three attacks, one against the Islander, a second directed at Israel, and in the third he says, "an American destroyer in the Red Sea was targeted with a number of drones."

The cargo ship is being referred to in most of the statements as UK-owned, but details of the ownership also remain vague. It had sailed from Thailand and Singapore and is displaying Al Aladabiyah, Egypt as its destination on its AIS broadcast. AP reports it was also displaying the message “Syrian crew on board.”

Built in 1996, databases list the vessel as being owned by Gemstone Marine of Liberia. It is managed out of Romania.

In addition to the attack on the Islander, there are several reports of other incidents. The Israelis are confirming that their Arrow missile defense system took down a missile headed to the southern port city of Eilat. The Houthi have fired a number of long-range missiles at the city on the northern Red Sea since the conflict began four months ago.

French naval forces are also reporting their second takedown of drones in as many days. One of their frigates intercepted two combat drones coming from Yemen without specifying the exact location. The report said the drones were taking “threatening actions” for the French frigate, commercial traffic, and partner naval forces, so they were engaged and destroyed. Earlier in the week France also reported that the frigate Alsace intercepted and shot down two unmanned aerial vehicles launched toward the Red Sea.

CENTCOM also said earlier today that U.S. aircraft and a coalition warship shot down a total of six one-way attack unmanned aerial vehicles. They reported the drones were identified as “likely targeting” U.S. and coalition warships and were an imminent threat.