Houthis Sink First Commercial Vessel In Red Sea

The anti-government Houthi group in Yemen, which has been redesignated as a terrorist organization once again by the Biden administration, recently struck a British-owned cargo ship with anti-ship missiles, and it sank in the Red Sea on Friday, according to reports by government officials.

“We announce the sinking of the ship M/V Rubymar yesterday evening, Friday, coinciding with the weather conditions and strong winds witnessed at sea,” the crisis management cell formed by the Yemeni government for the cargo ship Rubymar said in a statement.

The Houthis — Yemeni rebels backed by the Iranian government — attacked the commercial ship 35 nautical miles south of Al Mukha, Yemen, in the Bab el-Mandeb Strait that connects the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea.

The crew abandoned the ship after one of the Houthi anti-ship missiles hit the engine room and caused it to take on water, eventually sinking the ship and making it the first merchant vessel Houthis have sunk as part of the present conflict.

The government of Yemen warned the sinking of the commercial vessel “will cause an environmental catastrophe in the Yemeni territorial waters and the Red Sea” because the ship held 41,000 tons of fertilizer when it sank.

U.S. Central Command warned in late February that an attack on the ship risked an environmental catastrophe because of the ship’s chemically potent cargo.

“The unprovoked and reckless attack by Iran-backed Houthi terrorists caused significant damage to the ship, which caused an 18-mile oil slick,” the Yemeni government said. “The M/V Rubymar was transporting over 41,000 tons of fertilizer when it was attacked, which could spill into the Red Sea and worsen this environmental disaster.”

“The Houthis continue to demonstrate disregard for the regional impact of their indiscriminate attacks, threatening the fishing industry, coastal communities, and imports of food supplies,” the government statement added.

Ali Al-Sawalmih, director of the Marine Science Station at the University of Jordan, said the fertilizer spill threatens marine wildlife, “An urgent plan should be adopted by countries of the Red Sea to establish a monitoring agenda of the polluted areas in the Red Sea as well as adopt a cleanup strategy.”