Red Sea Security Concerns: Houthis’ Sea Drone Attacks on Vessels

Red Sea Security Concerns: Houthis' Sea Drone Attacks on Vessels

The Wall Street – The crew of a Greek-owned coal tanker was forced to abandon ship when Yemen’s Houthi rebels conducted an attack using a remote-controlled sea drone, according to the US Navy.

Sea Drone Attacks Overview

Analysts said it appeared to be the group’s first successful use of such a device, paving the path for the Iran-backed group to avoid US-led efforts to counter the missiles and aerial drones it has been deploying to attack ships in the Red Sea.

The crew of a Ukrainian-owned vessel was also forced to abandon ship on Saturday after being hit by Houthi rockets.

The United States Central Command, which oversees American military operations in the Middle East, claimed it had destroyed three seaborne explosive devices, an aerial drone fired by the Houthis, and onshore radars used to target marine boats.

Since Hamas attacked Israel on October 7, Iran-backed Houthi rebels have launched missiles, drones, and other weaponry at commercial ships and warships practically daily.

A US-led naval coalition has destroyed the majority of projectiles aimed at maritime traffic. They have also carried out strikes on launch sites in Yemen.

The loss of two warships in a couple of days is “marking a significant increase in effectiveness” for the Houthis, according to a note to customers from British security firm Ambrey.

Houthis’ Sea Drone Attacks on Vessels

According to Ambrey this was the first attack in which the Yemeni group successfully deployed a sea drone rather than missiles or aerial drones. It stated that the nature of the strike caused the engine room to flood.

The Ukrainian-owned Verbena, which was loaded with Malaysian lumber, was abandoned Saturday afternoon after its crew was unable to contain flames triggered by Houthi missile strikes two days prior, according to Centcom.

Meanwhile, Centcom said that the Tutor, a Greek-owned coal ship, is gradually taking on water following a separate attack by the Iran-backed organization.

One crew member was seriously hurt on the Verbena. A Philippine crewman aboard the Tutor is still missing.

“This situation cannot continue,” the International Maritime Organization’s secretary-general, Arsenio Dominguez, warned Friday. Evalend Shipping and Donbasstransitservice, the owners of the Tutor and Verbena, respectively, did not respond to calls for comment.

So yet, just one British-owned ship carrying 20,000 tons of fertilizer has sunk since the fighting began. More occurrences occurred over the weekend.

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations said on Sunday it had received a report of two explosions near a ship transiting near Yemen, but that the ship had completed its route safely.

Strikes by the US and its allies on the Houthi arsenal began in January, and multiple shipments from Iran were intercepted, disrupting some of the Houthis’ military capacity. In late January, the United States captured a huge container of Iranian weapons bound for the Houthis, including components for the type of seaborne explosives used in this week’s strike.

Despite these setbacks, Western and Houthi officials say the Houthis have found new means to obtain the necessary equipment from Iran.

Instead of obtaining weapons directly from Iran, Yemeni rebels have discovered a new channel through Djibouti, where guns arriving at Iranian ports are transferred to civilian ships, according to these sources. The Houthis are also using Lebanon. as a hub to purchase spare drone parts from China, they said.

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