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U.S. Says Houthis Targeted and Missed a Tanker in the Gulf of Aden

The Yemeni Houthis fired a ballistic missile at a U.S.-flagged and operated tanker in the Gulf of Aden but missed, the U.S. Central Command has said.

The Houthis also reported they had targeted the MV Torm Thor on Sunday, with "a number of appropriate naval missiles," according to a Reuters report.

Central Command said the USS Mason—a guided missile destroyer—shot down one ballistic missile in the area, adding it was likely to have been the one launched at the MV Torm Thor.

U.S. forces also shot down two one-way drones, Reuters reported, citing Central Command as saying the move was in self-defense.

The Houthis, who control most of Yemen, began attacking ships in the Red Sea in November, calling for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, and pledging to continue targeting ships in the Red Sea until Israel stopped bombing Gaza.

The attacks caused a massive rerouting of vessels around Africa, making journeys between Europe and Asia longer and more expensive, and messing up maritime schedules. It also caused worry about oil supply disruption although this has so far failed to materialize.

In early 2024, as U.S. and UK forces began responding to the ship attacks with attacks on land targets, the Houthis refined their targets, specifically noting U.S. and UK vessels among them. Despite a steady string of attacks by the Western duo, the Houthis have not stopped targeting whatever ships still pass through the Bab el-Mandeb strait.

The situation has also had a side effect: it has seen an increase in pirate activity along the southeastern coast of Africa as more ships are diverted around the continent from Bab el-Mandeb.

Last week, the secretary-general of the International Maritime Organization had to issue a warning to shipowners about the situation, urging them to tighten security.

“They need to be more in line with how they were back in 2008 to 2012 off Somalia. We’re having conversations to create awareness surrounding the Gulf of Guinea . . .  with the increased traffic in the region, we should avoid new escalation or increased incidents of piracy,” Arsenio Domingues said.


By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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