For the third time this week, a commercial vessel came under Iranian-backed Houthi missile attack near the Bab al-Mandab Strait Thursday, a U.S. military official told The War Zone. Now that ship’s owner is calling for “political action” to stop these incidents.
“A ballistic missile was fired from Houthi-controlled territory in Yemen at the Maersk Gibraltar,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss operational details. The missile missed and there was no damage to the ship or crew and no U.S. vessels in the area, said the official. The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations said that the vessel reported an explosion 50 meters off the port quarter after an entity calling itself the Yemeni Navy ordered it to proceed to Yemen.
“Maersk is aware of the ongoing incident relating to Maersk Gibraltar while the vessel was enroute from Salalah, Oman to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia,” Mikkel Linnet, a spokesman for Maersk, said in a statement to The War Zone. “The crew and vessel is reported safe. At this time, we are still working to establish the facts of the incident. The safety of our crew and vessel is our top priority and all possible security measures are being taken to ensure we remove them from harm’s way.”
Maersk is calling for outside help to stop these continuing attacks, Linnet said.
“The recent attacks on commercial vessels in the Bab al-Mandab Strait are extremely concerning,” he said. “The current situation puts seafarer lives at risk and is unsustainable for global trade. As it cannot be solved by the global shipping industry on its own, we call on political action to ensure a swift de-escalation.”
When pressed, Linnet would not elaborate on what kind of political action he was seeking, but it is notable that one of the world’s largest shipping companies is calling for such assistance.