Lebanese-Operated Cargo Ship Was Just Attacked By Houthis

CENTCOM

A cargo ship, operated by a Lebanese company, Blue Fleet Group, and damaged by a Houthi missile in the Red Sea, faces the risk of sinking, according to the U.S. military.

The ship, known as the Rubymar, was en route to Bulgaria when it was targeted, carrying a significant load of fertilizer, according to the New York Times.

Despite sustaining damage, the Rubymar, registered under the Belize flag, remains afloat but partially submerged. Plans are underway to tow it to either Djibouti or Aden for cargo transfer to another vessel.

The U.S. Central Command highlighted the severity of the situation, reporting an 18-mile oil slick caused by the vessel’s damage, describing it as an “environmental disaster.” The potential spillage of tens of thousands of tons of fertilizer into the Red Sea amplifies the risk.

While previous Houthi attacks on ships in the Red Sea have resulted in minimal damage, the strike on the Rubymar is deemed more significant. The attack, launched from a Houthi-controlled area in Yemen, targeted the ship on Monday night.

Despite Houthi claims of sinking the vessel, satellite imagery and the ship’s operator confirm otherwise. The Rubymar sustained damage but remained anchored, albeit with ongoing water intake.

Following the attack, the crew issued a distress call and subsequently abandoned the ship. They were rescued by a coalition warship and later transported to Djibouti by a vessel operated by a French shipping company.

Djibouti port officials disclosed that the Rubymar’s cargo, 41,000 tons of fertilizer, is classified as “high consequence dangerous goods” by the International Maritime Organization due to combustion risks.

Yemen’s official government called for other countries and maritime protection organizations to quickly address the oil slick and prevent “a significant environmental disaster.”

Blue Fleet Group, the operator of the Rubymar, was not immediately available for comment when reached out to regarding the incident.

Since the onset of Houthi attacks in the Red Sea, a coalition, including the U.S. and Britain, has employed naval forces to defend vessels. Recent self-defense strikes targeted Houthi drones and missiles in Yemen, aiming to safeguard commercial ships operating in the region.

On Friday, the coalition destroyed 7 mobile missile launchers belonging to the Houthis.

The Iranian-backed Houthi began targetting vessels in response to the Israel-Hamas war that began on October 7th, 2023.

Back in 2022, Yemen filed an official complaint to Lebanon about Houthis operating in Lebanon, particularly broadcasting two TV channels from Lebanon without legal licensing aimed at spreading propaganda.