A Houthi claim that the militant group hit an “American merchant ship” is being dubbed “fake” amid an operation to medevac an ill crew member.

Houthi military spokesman Yahya Saree said on Telegram that an operation targeted the 8,600-teu container ship Koi (built 2011).

But a source with knowledge of the situation said there was no such attack on the vessel.

The boxship slowed down and altered course to facilitate the helicopter evacuation of a crew member who had fallen ill, and he was taken to a hospital in Djibouti, the source said.

It has now resumed course and is proceeding at full speed, he said.

The Koi is owned by Oceanix Services, a UK-registered company controlled by a fund advised by JP Morgan Asset Management, according to data from Equasis, UK Companies House and the US Securities & Exchange Commission.

The ship is operated by French liner giant CMA CGM, according to the company’s website and VesselsValue.

A JP Morgan spokesperson did not immediately respond to TradeWinds’ request for confirmation, and CMA CGM’s media phone line rang unanswered.

Maritime security firm Ambrey Analytics said the vessel that was attacked was reportedly targeted by a “missile” while it was 69 nautical miles (128 km) southwest of Yemen at coordinates near the Bab al-Mandeb Strait.

“The vessel reported an explosion on her starboard,” Ambrey said, without naming the vessel.

The company said the missile was fired from Dimnat Khadir District in Yemen’s Taiz governorate while the vessel’s automatic information system transponder was not broadcasting a location.

Vessel tracking data from VesselsValue shows the Koi was in the Arabian Sea south of the Omani port of Salalah when it last broadcast a location on Sunday.

Saree described the vessel as an “American merchant ship” that was “heading to the ports of occupied Palestine”.

He said Houthi forces used “several appropriate naval missiles that directly hit” the Koi while it was in the Gulf of Aden.

Saree said that, hours earlier, Houthi naval forces also fired on the navy destroyer USS Gravely in the Red Sea.

“‏The Yemeni Armed Forces continue to provide support and solidarity with their brothers in the Gaza Strip by blocking Israeli navigation or those heading to occupied Palestinian ports in the Red and Arab Seas until food and medicine are allowed,” he said, according to a machine translation.

The Iran-backed Houthis, which control a large swathe of Yemen, refer to their military as the Yemeni Armed Forces.

“The Yemeni Armed Forces will confront the American-British escalation with escalation and will not hesitate to carry out comprehensive and effective military operations in retaliation to any British-American foolishness against beloved Yemen.‏”

The 110,000-dwt Marlin Luanda (built 2018), which is owned by Oceanix and operated by Trafigura, was the target of an attack on Friday that sparked a fire.

Yannick Guerry and Harry Papachristou contributed to this article