Yemen’s Houthi rebels accelerated their attacks on commercial vessels on Monday, claiming strikes on six ships in five days.

Three ships were targeted alone on 19 February, hot on the heels of an attack on the 32,200-dwt Rubymar (built 1997), which caused its crew to abandon the vessel.

With the exception of the Rubymar, which the Houthis claim to have sunk, no other major damage or casualty was reported from the three vessels impacted on Monday.

One of them was the 48,900-dwt Sea Champion (built 2005), a bulker carrying grain to Aden.

The Greece-flagged, US-owned bulk carrier was attacked by missiles twice within a few hours between 80 and 100 nautical miles (150-185 km) east of Aden.

In the second strike on the same vessel, a projectile hit the water 10 or 15 metres off the starboard side.

The Sea Champion is managed by Mega Shipping Line Corp, a company controlled by Greek interests based in Piraeus and New York.

The Yemeni group did not just target the Sea Champion in the Gulf of Aden, but a second US-owned vessel as well — the 37,900-dwt Navis Fortuna (built 2010).

The Navis Fortuna is registered under the ownership of US investment giant Oaktree Capital Management. According to the US military, the ship was struck but suffered just “minor damage”, no injuries and continued its journey towards Italy.

A third attack was reported by the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) late on Monday.

At 18:20 GMT, an unidentified vessel was hit 60 nautical miles (110 kilometres) north of Djibouti in the Bab el-Mandeb strait.

Impact from an “uncrewed aerial system” caused superficial damaged to the vessel's accommodation superstructure, UKMTO said, adding that the crew is reported to be safe and the vessel was proceeding to its next port of call.

That ship may be MSC’s 37,500-dwt bulker MSC Silver II (built 2002), an attack against which the Houthis claimed responsibility for in a statement one day later, on Tuesday.

Two other attacks took place in the week before, on Thursday and Friday, targeting the 58,800-dwt bulker Lycavitos (built 2007), which is managed by London Greeks; and the Greek-managed 100,000-dwt LR2 product tanker Pollux (built 2003).

The attacks coincide with the increased sophistication displayed by the Houthis.

US forces said on Saturday that they destroyed an underwater drone, making this the first known instance of the Yemeni rebel group employing such a device.

The Houthis, who control large swathes of Yemen, have attacked nearly 60 vessels since November, as part of a policy to pressure Israel to stop the war in Gaza.

Their declared targets are ships linked or trading with Israel or belonging to companies in the US and the UK, whose forces have been bombing the Houthis in retaliation.

The Houthis often use the residence of ships’ registered owners to define their nationality.

Download the TradeWinds News app
The News app offers you more control over your TradeWinds reading experience than any other platform.