A Houthi missile strike on a Marshall Islands-flagged tanker with UK connections in the Gulf of Aden ignited a substantial fire that burned for several hours. The vessel, operated by Trafigura on behalf of Oceonix Services Ltd – a UK-registered company – was en route to Singapore carrying a cargo of Russian naphtha. Miraculously, the 22 Indian and 1 Bangladeshi crew members aboard escaped unharmed.
The attack, perpetrated by the Iran-backed Houthi movement in Yemen, has been condemned by the UK and US governments as an “intolerable and illegal” act. The Houthis, citing “American-British aggression against our country,” claimed the strike was in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza, where Israel is engaged in a military operation against Hamas.
The incident highlights the escalating tensions in the Red Sea, a crucial maritime chokepoint for global trade. French, Indian, and US naval ships responded to the attack, providing assistance to the stricken tanker. The US Central Command (Centcom) confirmed no casualties among the crew and that the fire had been extinguished.
The Marlin Luanda’s ordeal underscores the vulnerability of commercial shipping in the region and the need for robust measures to deter and prevent such attacks. The US and UK have reiterated their commitment to safeguarding freedom of navigation in the Red Sea, emphasizing the importance of international cooperation to maintain regional stability.