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Houthis Target Two More Merchant Ships with New Attacks

February 8 ------ The Houthi militants targeted both a British and an American ship overnight as they vowed to continue their attacks. This came just a day after the UK’s Defense Secretary Grant Shapps said the UK believed the militants still had “an appetite” to continue targeting ships despite three rounds of joint U.S.-UK strikes and multiple missions by the U.S. destroying equipment and arms in the Houthi held areas of Yemen. 


The UK-managed vessel, a 12,000 dwt general cargo ship named Morning Tide, was southbound having transited the Suez Canal on February 2 and appears to be displaying a message on its AIS “Chinese Ownership.” The ship is registered in Barbados. 


Despite the attempt to avoid targeting, the UK Maritime Trade Organizations and other reporting agencies are saying the ship was targeted while approximately 57 miles west of Hudaydah, Yemen. The reports are that the captain and crew observed small boats approaching and attempted to take evasive maneuvers. One of the small boats fired what was assumed to be a missile at a distance of 30 meters from the ship. Debris from the missile hit the ship with reports that some of the bridge windows were broken but none of the crew were injured.  


A company official later posted a message saying the explosion “looked like fireworks,” reports Bloomberg. The company confirmed that no one was injured and said the ship was continuing on course.  


The second vessel targeted was in the Gulf of Aden off the city of Aden in Yemen shortly after transiting the Bab el-Mandeb Strait. It is a Greek-owned bulker managed by Star Bulk Carriers, a U.S.-listed company. The 82,220 dwt Star Nasia registered in the Marshall Islands departed Newport News, Virginia on December 30.  She transited the Suez Canal at the end of January reporting she is bound for India with reporting they believe she is carrying a load of American coal. 


The vessel reported an explosion in close proximity, approximately 50 meters away, at the water level. Some reports are saying it was believed to be a drone although a Greek shipping ministry official told Reuters it could also have been a sea mine. The vessel is also reporting no damage and continuing its voyage.  


The spokesperson for the Houthis, Yahya Saree, later issued a statement taking credit for both attacks. He said their forces “have carried out two military operations in the Red Sea, the first targeted the American ship Star Nasia, while the other one targeted the British ship Morning Tide, with suitable naval missiles, and strikes were direct and accurate.” The Houthi repeated their message that they will continue to target “all hostile American-British targets” as well as Israeli shipping until the war in the Gaza Strip has stopped. 


EUNAVFOR is keeping a running tally of all the reported incidents in the region. They numbered these two vessels as number 44 and 45 among the merchant ships attacked since November 2023 when the Houthi first seized the car carrier Galaxy Leader. 


The Bulgarian Transport Minister speaking on television also provided the first update in weeks on the crew of the car carrier. According to a report from Agence France Press, he said that the crew is safe and now being put up in a hotel. He remains hopeful that the crew will be returned “safe and sound,” he said, and will shortly return home. 



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