Deadly Houthi Strike Claims Lives of Three Seafarers in Gulf of Aden Attack

Three sailors lost their lives in a Houthi missile strike on a merchant vessel in the Gulf of Aden, according to the United States military. This marks the first reported fatalities since the Iran-aligned Yemeni group initiated attacks on shipping in one of the world’s busiest maritime routes due to Israel’s conflict with Gaza.

The Houthis claimed responsibility for the Wednesday attack, which left the Liberian-owned, Barbados-flagged ship True Confidence engulfed in flames approximately 50 nautical miles (93km) off Yemen’s Aden port.

The US Central Command reported “three fatalities and at least four injuries, with three in critical condition,” alongside “significant damage to the vessel.”

US military aerial images depicted the ship’s bridge and cargo ablaze.

“These reckless assaults by the Houthis have disrupted global trade and claimed the lives of international sailors merely carrying out their demanding duties, vital for sustaining global supply chains,” stated Central Command.

Earlier on Wednesday, the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) agency reported the crew relinquishing control of the vessel, ultimately abandoning it.

In a prerecorded message, Houthi military spokesperson Brigadier General Yahya Saree claimed responsibility for the attack, attributing the blaze to their missile strike. He declared that such assaults would persist until the “siege on the Palestinian people in Gaza is lifted.”

Following the missile strike, the crew evacuated the ship, deploying lifeboats. Both a US warship and the Indian navy responded, aiding in rescue operations, as reported by The Associated Press. The exact number of crew members on board during the attack remains unclear.

The United Nations urged the Houthis “to halt all assaults on international shipping in the Red Sea,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric expressed deep concern over the ongoing attacks, including the recent incident where the crew’s status is unknown.

Dujarric highlighted the risks posed to “property, lives, and the environment in the region” due to these attacks.

Since mid-November, Houthi fighters in Yemen have repeatedly targeted international commercial shipping with drones and missiles, citing solidarity with Palestinians and opposition to Israel’s actions in Gaza.

These attacks have disrupted global shipping, prompting companies to reroute via longer and costlier routes around southern Africa.

The True Confidence is owned by the Liberian-registered company True Confidence Shipping and operated by the Greece-based Third January Maritime, according to a joint statement. Both companies clarified that the vessel has no connection to the US, although it was previously owned by Oaktree Capital Management, a Los Angeles-based fund specializing in vessel financing.

Despite over a month of US-led airstrikes against the Houthis, the group has maintained its capacity for significant attacks. Recent attacks include last month’s strike on the Rubymar, a cargo ship carrying fertilizer, which sank after drifting for several days. Additionally, a US drone worth millions was downed by the Houthis.

A recent Houthi assault targeted the USS Carney, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer involved in the US campaign against the rebels. The attack involved bomb-laden drones and an antitank ballistic missile, as confirmed by the US Central Command.

Subsequently, the US launched airstrikes, destroying three antiship missiles and three bomb-carrying drone boats, according to Central Command.

While acknowledging the attack, Houthi military spokesperson Saree claimed their forces targeted two US warships without further details, reiterating that Houthi actions will continue until the “aggression is halted, and the siege on Gaza is lifted.

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