LONDON: A UK-owned ship passing through the Red Sea has reportedly been hit by rocket fire, a UK-based maritime security group said today, with another agency reporting possible drone activity in the area.
The unnamed Bahamas-flagged vessel was “struck by a rocket” while sailing south around 35 nautical miles off Yemen’s western coast, maritime security firm Ambrey said, citing reports.
“The affected vessel was issuing distress calls relating to piracy/missile attack,” the UK-based company added.
It noted reports that “an international naval asset in the vicinity of the incident” was likely proceeding to the ship’s location.
The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) agency, run by Britain’s Royal Navy, said it had received “a report of Uncrewed Aerial Systems (UAS) activity including a potential explosion … originating from the direction of Yemen”.
It advised vessels in the area to “exercise caution”.
The reported incident comes amid heightened tensions in the Red Sea and surrounding waters after Iran-backed Houthi rebels seized an Israeli-linked cargo vessel, the Galaxy Leader, last month.
Within days two ballistic missiles were also launched from an area controlled by Houthi rebels in Yemen, landing around 10 nautical miles from a US destroyer, the USS Mason, according to the Pentagon.
The Houthis have fired a series of drone and missile strikes targeting Israel since Hamas poured over the border into Israel on Oct 7, killing 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and kidnapping about 240.
The spike in maritime incidents prompted G7 foreign ministers at a meeting earlier this week to urge the rebels to cease threats to international shipping and to release the Galaxy Leader.
In the latest apparent attack, Ambrey said the targeted vessel – en route from the US to Singapore – had transited the Suez Canal five days ago
“The bulker was reportedly struck by a rocket and the crew retreated to the citadel,” it added.
“Numerous vessels passed the incident location today but no unusual manoeuvres were observed.”
Ambrey said the attacked vessel’s ownership and management was linked to Dan David Ungar, a British citizen listed as an Israeli resident in Britain’s main companies directory.