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Missiles from rebel territory in Yemen miss a ship near the key Bab el-Mandeb Strait

by Chloe Baker
4 comments
Houthi rebel attack

Two missiles launched from Yemen’s Houthi-controlled area narrowly missed hitting a commercial tanker carrying Indian-produced jet fuel near the critical Bab el-Mandeb Strait on Wednesday, as reported by a U.S. official.

During the same incident, a U.S. warship intercepted a suspected Houthi drone aimed at it, according to the official who remained anonymous while discussing intelligence. Fortunately, there were no casualties reported in this assault.

This attack on the tanker Ardmore Encounter escalates the Iranian-supported Houthi rebels’ campaign against vessels near the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, risking the safety of cargo and energy shipments through the Suez Canal and broadening the global ramifications of the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

Satellite tracking data analyzed by The Big Big News revealed that the Marshall Islands-flagged tanker Ardmore Encounter was heading north to the Suez Canal through the Red Sea. The ship, departing from Mangalore, India, was equipped with armed security personnel, as indicated by the ship’s transmitted data.

Ardmore Shipping Corp., the owner and operator of the vessel, confirmed the incident in a statement to the AP. The company assured that all crew members were safe, unharmed, and accounted for, and that the vessel remained fully functional with no cargo loss or damage.

“Ardmore is maintaining close communication with relevant authorities and military support is now present in the area for assistance as necessary,” the statement further added.

The tanker was transporting jet fuel from Shell MRPL Aviation Fuels & Services Ltd., a collaborative venture of Shell and India’s national oil company. The shipment was destined for either Rotterdam, Netherlands, or Gavle, Sweden, as per Ardmore Shipping. Shell did not issue any comments on this matter.

Ardmore Shipping’s stock saw a minor rise in early trading on Wednesday on the New York Stock Exchange, reaching $13.64 per share.

The Houthis have yet to acknowledge this attack. Meanwhile, the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations, a British military unit that issues navigational warnings in the Middle East, reported a similar incident in the Ardmore Encounter’s vicinity and another off the coast of Oman.

On the preceding Monday night, a Houthi-launched missile struck a Norwegian-flagged tanker in the Red Sea near the Bab el-Mandeb Strait.

The Houthis have been responsible for multiple assaults on ships in the Red Sea and have launched drones and missiles targeting Israel. They have recently warned of attacks on any vessel suspected of having connections with Israel. However, no direct link between the Ardmore Encounter and Israel has been established.

Analysts believe that the Houthis are attempting to rally diminishing popular support through these attacks amid the prolonged civil war in Yemen involving Saudi-backed forces.

France and the United States have refrained from directly attributing their ships as targets in the rebel attacks. They did, however, confirm the interception of Houthi drones approaching their ships, taken down in self-defense. Neither Washington nor Israel has yet retaliated directly to these assaults, despite Israel’s insistence on no connections between their country and the targeted ships.

As the conflict between Israel and Hamas intensifies, potentially escalating into a broader regional conflict, global shipping faces increasing threats. This risk was further highlighted by the recent breakdown of a ceasefire, which led to a resumption of Israel’s ground offensive and airstrikes on Gaza, heightening concerns of further maritime attacks.

The Bab el-Mandeb Strait, a vital maritime passage, is only 29 kilometers wide at its narrowest, necessitating two separate channels for inbound and outbound traffic. The U.S. Energy Information Administration notes that nearly 10% of all globally traded oil passes through this strait, with goods worth approximately $1 trillion annually.

In a related development, the Houthis seized a vehicle transport ship associated with Israel in the Red Sea near Yemen last November and continue to detain it near Hodeida. Additionally, a container ship owned by an Israeli billionaire was attacked in the Indian Ocean, suspected to be by an Iranian drone.

Despite the ongoing war in Yemen, a fragile ceasefire has been maintained between the Houthis and a Saudi-led coalition supporting Yemen’s exiled government. However, there are growing concerns that any further escalation at sea or a potential retaliatory strike by Western forces could reignite tensions in Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country.

In a significant response back in 2016, the U.S. launched Tomahawk cruise missiles, destroying three coastal radar sites in Houthi-controlled Yemen in retaliation for missile attacks on U.S. Navy ships.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Houthi rebel attack

What was the recent incident involving a tanker near the Bab el-Mandeb Strait?

Two missiles launched by Yemen’s Houthi rebels narrowly missed a commercial tanker carrying Indian-manufactured jet fuel near the Bab el-Mandeb Strait. An American warship also intercepted a Houthi drone during the incident. The tanker, Ardmore Encounter, was heading towards the Suez Canal and remained fully operational with no casualties or damage.

Who is responsible for the attack on the Ardmore Encounter?

The attack on the Ardmore Encounter, a tanker near the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, was conducted by Yemen’s Houthi rebels. These rebels, backed by Iran, have been involved in a prolonged conflict in Yemen and have targeted several vessels in the Red Sea.

What are the wider implications of this attack on global shipping?

The attack near the Bab el-Mandeb Strait by Houthi rebels poses significant risks to global shipping, especially cargo and energy shipments through the Suez Canal. It also raises concerns about the broader impact on regional stability and the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict.

How has the international community responded to the Houthi rebel attacks?

The international community, including the United States and France, has stopped short of directly responding to the Houthi rebel attacks. However, they have acknowledged intercepting Houthi drones near their ships. The British military’s United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations has been issuing warnings to sailors in the region.

What is the strategic significance of the Bab el-Mandeb Strait?

The Bab el-Mandeb Strait is a crucial maritime passage, only 29 kilometers wide at its narrowest point. It facilitates two separate channels for inbound and outbound traffic, with nearly 10% of globally traded oil passing through it. Goods worth approximately $1 trillion annually transit through this strait.

More about Houthi rebel attack

  • Bab el-Mandeb Strait Incident
  • Houthi Rebel Activities
  • Global Maritime Security Concerns
  • Yemen Conflict Overview
  • Ardmore Encounter Attack Details
  • Regional Implications of Yemen’s Civil War
  • U.S. and International Response to Houthi Attacks
  • Strategic Importance of Bab el-Mandeb Strait

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4 comments

Mike O'Reilly December 15, 2023 - 1:47 am

i think the part about the strategic importance of Bab el-Mandeb Strait is really crucial. it’s such a key spot for global trade, can’t believe it’s not talked about more!

Reply
Emma Thompson December 15, 2023 - 3:58 am

Interesting article but there’s a couple of typos here and there, like ‘Bab el-Mandeb Strait’ was spelled wrong once. just a heads up!

Reply
Sarah Johnson December 15, 2023 - 6:40 am

great read but felt a bit too long, maybe could’ve been shorter with more focus on the actual attack and less on the background stuff.

Reply
John Smith December 15, 2023 - 11:19 am

This article is really informative, but I think it misses some key points about the wider implications of these attacks? it’s not just about Yemen, it’s a much bigger issue.

Reply

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