SMA NEWS – LONDON
The Iranian-backed Houthis have hit another American-owned bulk carrier in the Gulf of Aden.
The latest incident took place Wednesday approximately 60 nautical miles southeast of Aden, Yemen, the UK Maritime Trade Operations office reported. The report said the vessel was hit on the port side by an Uncrewed Aerial System, a type of one-type attack drone. The vessel’s master reported a fire on board had been extinguished.
“Vessel and crew are safe and proceeding to next port of call,” the report said.
UK-based security firm Ambrey identified the ship as a Marshall Islands-flagged bulk carrier, according to Reuters. “The vessel’s gangway incurred damage, and at the time of writing it was deemed not usable”, Ambrey’s advisory note said.
The Houthis said the ship targeted is the M/V Genco Picardy, a Supramax bulk carrier owned by U.S.-based Genco Shipping (NYSE: GNK).
The U.S. Central Command eventually confirmed that the Genco Picardy was struck by a one-way attack UAS launched from Houthi controlled areas in Yemen. “There were no injuries and some damage reported. M/V Genco Picardy is seaworthy and continuing underway,” the update said.
The incident marks the third hit on a bulk carrier by the Houthis in as many days, including two on American-owned bulk carriers, after earlier attacks largely missed the apparent targets.
On Monday, the Houthis carried out a successful missile strike on the bulk carrier M/V Gibraltar Eagle in the Gulf of Aden. The vessel is owned by U.S.-based Eagle Bulk Shipping (NYSE: EGLE).
Yesterday, the Maltese-flagged bulk carrier M/V Zografia, owned by Greece-based Bonneure Shipping Corp, was struck by an anti-ship ballistic missile in the Southern Red Sea. The attack came hours after U.S. military strikes destroyed four Houthi anti-ship ballistic missile systems in Yemen.
In both cases, there was no significant damage to the ships and the vessels were able to continue under their own power.
“We could easily see more #DryBulk #shipping divert away from #RedSea & #SuezCanal going forward, given recent events,” shipping expert Joakim Hannisdahl wrote on “X”.
The Iranian-backed Houthis have now launched about 30 attacks on commercial shipping using either missiles, one-way attack drones, naval drones, or small craft, since the November 19 hijacking of the Galaxy Leader, which they continue to hold along with its crew.
Houthi attacks on shipping seem to have escalated since joint strikes on multiple targets in Yemen by the U.S. and UK last week and a follow-on strike by the U.S. on Houthi radar systems last Friday. The escalation has now prompted the Biden administration to re-designate the Houthis as a terrorist organization due to the attacks.
“These attacks fit the textbook definition of terrorism,” said National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan.
The U.S. Navy on Sunday announced a significant seizure of Iranian weapons destined for Houthi forces in Yemen, marking the first confiscation of such advanced conventional weapons (ACW) since the Houthis began attacking merchant ships in November. The operation took place in the Arabian Sea, near the coast of Somalia, on January 11, 2024, and tragically resulted in the loss of two U.S. Navy SEALs.