An anti-ship cruise missile fired by Yemen’s Houthi rebels struck a Norwegian-flagged tanker in the Red Sea near a key maritime chokepoint known as the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, where nearly 10% of all crude traded at sea passes through.
Reuters quoted Houthi military spokesperson Yehia Sarea, who said the tanker – named “Strinda” – was targeted because it was headed to an Israeli terminal, and the crew ignored all warnings.
However, Strinda’s owner, Norway’s Mowinckel Chemical Tankers, said the vessel was bound for the Suez Canal and then on to Italy with a cargo containing vegetable oil and biofuels.
A US official told Reuters that the attack occurred about 60 nautical miles north of Bab al-Mandab Strait, connecting the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden around 2100 GMT. After the attack, another official said the tanker could move under its own power.
According to the US military’s Central Command, which supervises US forces in the Middle East, the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Mason received a distress call from Strinda and was able to respond:
“There were no US ships in the vicinity at the time of the attack, but the (US Navy destroyer) USS MASON responded to the M/T STRINDA’s mayday call and is currently rendering assistance.”
The Iran-backed militant group has carried out a series of attacks on commercial vessels in the Red Sea (read: here & here). They are specifically targeting any vessel they believe is going to or coming from Israel.
Bloomberg cited sources who said the US and Gulf allies have been discussing potential military action against the militant group for the latest spate of attacks on commercial vessels in the Red Sea.
As for energy markets, Brent crude futures briefly traded above $76 a barrel after Central Command posted on X about the incident on Monday night. Yet Brent gave up all gains and slid back to the $75 handle early Tuesday. Global crude markets are gripped with oversupply fears.
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