Houthis Target British-Linked Tanker in Gulf of Aden, Ignite Escalation
A tanker with connections to the UK experienced a significant fire in the Gulf of Aden after being struck by a missile fired by the Houthis.
The Iran-backed Houthis, situated in Yemen, claimed responsibility for targeting the Marlin Luanda on Friday, citing "American-British aggression" as the reason. In response to previous attacks on ships in the Red Sea region, the US and UK had initiated airstrikes on Houthi targets.
French, Indian, and US naval ships provided assistance to the vessel during the fiery incident. The Marlin Luanda is operated by Oceonix Services Ltd, a UK-registered company, and is flagged under the Marshall Islands on behalf of Trafigura, a multinational trading company. Trafigura reported on Saturday that all crew members were safe, and the fire in a cargo tank had been successfully extinguished. The ship was en route to a safe harbor.
This attack is the latest in a series of Houthi assaults on commercial shipping in and around the Red Sea. The group claims to target vessels in the region in support of Palestinians in Gaza, where conflicts persist between Israel and Hamas. A Houthi spokesperson asserted that the Marlin Luanda, a British ship, was targeted in response to "American-British aggression against our country."
The UK government condemned attacks on commercial shipping as "completely unacceptable" and declared that Britain and its allies retain the right to respond appropriately. The UK Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) reported that the incident occurred 60 nautical miles southeast of Aden and cautioned other vessels to transit with caution and report any suspicious activity.
Subsequently, the US Central Command announced that its forces conducted a strike against a Houthi anti-ship missile in self-defense. The strike occurred at 03:45 local time on Saturday, destroying the missile that was prepared for launch into the Red Sea. Since November, the Houthis have carried out numerous attacks on commercial vessels navigating the Red Sea, a vital shipping lane in the global maritime network.