Tanker carrying Russian oil was hit 150km from Hodeidah port

Houthi armed forces have assured that vessels from China and Russia navigating the Red Sea will steer clear of their attack range. However, the intricate nature of international shipping complicates vessel ownership identification. Recently, according to Russian satellite reports, Houthi forces targeted an oil tanker en route to China from a Russian port in the Red Sea. 

Tanker carrying Russian oil was hit 150km from Hodeidah port
Photo credit: Sohu

Russian media highlights that the cruise ship “M/T Wind” was attacked by Houthi missiles approximately 150 kilometers from the port of Hodeidah shortly after entering the Red Sea. The missile struck the tanker’s cabin, causing flooding and a temporary loss of power. 

Post-attack, Houthi forces ceased further actions. “M/T Wind” managed to conduct swift repairs, restore power, and promptly leave the Red Sea to continue its voyage.

Panama flag

While the attack did not inflict significant damage, it garnered considerable international attention. This is particularly noteworthy because the Houthis have vowed not to target Chinese vessels, making this incident appear highly unusual. According to Western media sources, the “M/T Wind” was navigating under a Panamanian flag when it entered the Red Sea and was operated by a Greek shipping company. 

International shipping is notably intricate, involving a ship’s registration location, operational ownership, the shipping company employing the crew, and other factors, thus entangling multiple nations.

Saving money

Tanker carrying Russian oil was hit 150km from Hodeidah port
Photo credit: Sohu

To cut down on operating expenses, many shipping firms opt to register their vessels in countries like Panama, Liberia, or the Marshall Islands, rather than in their home nations. Furthermore, frequent ship transfers contribute to delays in intelligence updates for Houthi armed forces. 

In a recent incident, Houthi forces accidentally damaged a Chinese cargo ship. The investigation revealed that this ship had been owned by a British shipping company just a few months prior and had been listed as a target by Houthi militants. This incident underscores ongoing tensions, with Houthi forces targeting vessels associated with the United States, Western nations, and Israel.

Mostly the US

Tanker carrying Russian oil was hit 150km from Hodeidah port
Photo credit: Sohu

The United States is undoubtedly facing increased challenges. In the ongoing naval conflict with the Houthi armed forces, the American military is encountering significant difficulties. 

In mid-May, the Houthi armed forces reported a series of successful strikes. On May 15, they announced that multiple missiles had hit the US destroyer USS Mason. Additionally, a US military drone, the MQ-9 Reaper, was targeted and attacked by Houthi forces. 

Despite numerous airstrikes by the US-British coalition, the Houthis continue to demonstrate resilience and capability. They frequently conduct maritime operations and possess substantial stockpiles of missiles and drones, showing little concern for prolonged conflict. The United States, currently preoccupied with supporting efforts in the Russo-Ukrainian conflict and facing complications from Israel, finds itself increasingly stretched thin.

Close call in the skies: MQ-9 survives mid-air encounter with Su-35
Photo credit: USAF

The Houthis are expanding

As the United States grapples with providing adequate naval escorts, the Houthi armed forces have intensified their efforts. On May 16, Houthi leader Abdul Malik al-Houthi declared in a televised speech that their forces plan to expand their attacks on Israeli transport routes.  

Right now, not just the Suez-Red Sea route but any ship headed to Israeli ports is at risk of becoming a target for the Houthis. Despite the U.S. announcing the end of its military aid, Israel continues its operations in Gaza.  

UK warship fired an Aster missile and killed a Houthi rebels UAV
Photo credit: Twitter

The Houthi forces haven’t let up on attacking Israel’s transport lines. It’s a situation that seems like a tug-of-war; who will ultimately prevail remains to be seen.

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