Yemen’s Houthi rebels escalated their attacks on vessels in the Red Sea, with a recent strike causing a fire on the fuel tanker Marlin Luanda, operated on behalf of trading firm Trafigura. The tanker was carrying Russian naphtha bought below the G7 sanctions price cap.
Trafigura reported that a missile hit the vessel, leading to a fire in one cargo tank on the starboard side. Firefighting equipment was deployed, and military ships were en route to assist.
Houthi attacks in the Red Sea have mainly targeted container vessels, but this incident involved an oil tanker. The Free Spirit, chartered by Vitol to transport crude oil, altered its course after the Marlin Luanda attack. The UK Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) and Ambrey, a British maritime security firm, received reports of vessels being struck near Yemen’s Aden, resulting in fires.
The Houthi military spokesperson claimed responsibility, stating that their naval forces targeted the “British” tanker Marlin Luanda in the Gulf of Aden, causing a fire. UKMTO reported an incident southeast of Aden, where a missile-hit vessel remained on fire, with crew members reportedly safe. Coalition warships were providing support.
Earlier incidents involved missile explosions near a ship off the port of Aden and another 60 nautical miles off Yemen’s Hodeidah port. The U.S. military confirmed intercepting an anti-ship ballistic missile from a Houthi-controlled area, preventing injuries or damage.
Houthi militants have been launching drones and missiles at vessels since November 19, responding to Israeli military actions in Gaza. Some shipping companies have suspended Red Sea transits, opting for longer, costlier routes around Africa. In retaliation, the U.S. and British forces have conducted numerous airstrikes against Houthi forces in Yemen.