THERE has been another wave of attacks against ships in the Red Sea.
The US military, cited by Reuters, reported on Sunday that three commercial vessels had come under attack in international waters in the southern Red Sea on Sunday 3 December).
Yemen’s Houthi militia claimed to have attacked two ships with links to Israel – a connection Israel denies. Those vessels were the containership Number 9 and the bulk carrier Unity Explorer.
Panama-flagged Number 9 (IMO 9340752) is a 4250 TEU vessel operated by OOCL, and Bahamas-flagged Unity Explorer (IMO 9726035) is reported to be owned by a UK-headquartered company.
Missiles struck both vessels; Number 9 reported “some damage” according to AP, and Unity Explorer “sustained minor damage”.
Houthi spokesperson Yahya Sare’e wrote on social media platform X (formerly Twitter) on 4 December that the two ships were targeted after “rejecting warnings” from Yemeni naval forces.
But Israeli military spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said the vessels had no connection to Israel.
“Today missiles were fired at two commercial ships without a connection to the state of Israel,” Mr Hagari told reporters in Tel Aviv.
“I will repeat that so it’s clear: without any connection to the state of Israel.”
Maritime security company Ambrey wrote on LinkedIn that its analytics service found the two vessels were not affiliated with Israel at the time of the attack, but “a historic Israel link exists for one of the vessels”.
“The Houthis’ database is likely outdated and therefore led to mistaken targeting,” Ambrey wrote.
“All merchant shipping is advised to reduce bridge manning and crew movement on deck to a minimum while in the area.”
A missile also hit a third ship, Panama-flagged bulk carrier AOM Sophie II (IMO 9881366), but the vessel reported no significant damage, AP said.
The US military said the American destroyer Carney shot down three drones as it helped the commercial vessels.
In a broadcast statement quoted by Reuters, it said the attacks were a threat to international commerce.
“We also have every reason to believe that these attacks, while launched by the Houthis in Yemen, are fully enabled by Iran,” the statement said.
According to Reuters, US Central Command has said the three vessels were connected to 14 separate nations.
These attacks are the latest in a series that began with the hijacking of Galaxy Leader on 19 November.