Latest Houthi Attack Off Yemen Heavily Damages Cargo Ship; Crew Evacuated

The cargo ship was reportedly on its way to Bulgaria after leaving Khorfakkan in the United Arab Emirates.
Latest Houthi Attack Off Yemen Heavily Damages Cargo Ship; Crew Evacuated
A locator map for Yemen with its capital, Sanaa. (AP Photo)

The crew of a British-registered, Lebanese-operated cargo ship that was seriously damaged in a missile attack by Houthi terrorists off Yemen on Feb. 18 has safely abandoned the vessel, maritime officials say.

The vessel, which is at risk of sinking, reportedly had been traveling through the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, which connects the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden waterways. A second ship reportedly came under attack in the Gulf of Aden.

An explosion following the missile attack caused extensive damage to the vessel, according to reports from the British military’s United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) center.

“Military authorities report crew have abandoned the vessel,” the UKMTO center said. “Vessel at anchor and all crew are safe.”

A spokesperson for the terrorist group, Yahya Saree, issued a statement claiming responsibility for the attack, saying the vessel is “now at risk of potentially sinking.”

“The ship suffered catastrophic damages and came to a complete halt. During the operation, we made sure that the ship’s crew exited safely,” he said in the statement.

The now-damaged cargo ship was reportedly on its way to Bulgaria after leaving Khorfakkan in the United Arab Emirates, according to reports by the private UK security firm Ambrey. The vessel was later independently identified as the Rubymar via ship-tracking data from, which was also confirmed by the Houthi attackers.

According to Ambrey, the vessel was partially cargo-laden, although no information currently exists on what cargo was on board. The vessel’s Automatic Identification System tracker had been deactivated during the ship’s presence in the Persian Gulf earlier this month.

Additional reports by the UKMTO center and Ambrey of a second vessel under attack surfaced later on Feb. 19. Ship-tracking data, combined with details provided in the report, identified it as the Greek-flagged, U.S.-owned bulk carrier Sea Champion. The ship was bound for Aden, Yemen, from Argentina.

The Iran-backed terrorist group also claimed to have shot down a U.S. MQ-9 Reaper drone near Yemen’s port city of Hodeida on the Red Sea in a separate attack. Reports of such an incident couldn’t be immediately verified.

Reports coming from the Houthi terrorist group are often false or inaccurate, however, the terrorists can shoot down high-flying U.S. drones with surface-to-air missile systems.

An MQ-9 Reaper drone was confirmed to have been shot down by the Houthis in November 2023, the Pentagon said at the time, although U.S. drone losses have overall been minimal since the Houthis seized the country’s north and its capital of Sanaa roughly a decade ago.

Underwater Drone

The U.S. military has confirmed it was conducting new targeted airstrikes against the terrorists in the region. One such strike was aimed at the first Houthi underwater drone observed by the U.S. military since Houthi attacks on international shipping began in the region nearly four months ago.

The U.S. military has carried out five airstrikes targeting Houthi military equipment, specifically targeted at mobile anti-ship cruise missiles, an explosive-carrying drone boat, and an “unmanned underwater vessel,” according to the U.S. military’s Central Command.

The Houthi terrorist group has repeatedly claimed that it would only target vessels that have ties to Israel. Yet, attacks on vessels with questionable or no links to Israel have been frequent, compromising trade on the key shipping route that connects Asia with the Middle East and Europe. At least one of the vessels included cargo for Iran, which is the terrorist group’s main backer.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.