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Home News Crew of Houthi-hit Ukrainian ship evacuated as assaults on vessels intensify

Crew of Houthi-hit Ukrainian ship evacuated as assaults on vessels intensify

Verbena, the general cargo ship that caught fire after being hit by two Houthi missiles on 13 June, has been abandoned by its crew after the fire turned out to be more serious than initially thought.

The ship, owned by Ukraine-based Donbasstransitservice and operated by Poland-based Dtschart Sp., is in danger of sinking, along with Tutor, the Evalend Shipping-owned Kamsarmax bulk carrier that was also hit by Houthi missiles.

US Central Command (CENTCOM) said on 15 June: “Today, at approximately 1:45 pm (Yemen time), the crew issued a distress call indicating they were abandoning the ship. The (bulk carrier) Anna Meta responded to render assistance. Anna Meta has recovered the mariners and is transporting them to safety. The crew abandoned ship due to continued fires and an inability to control them.”

CENTCOM noted that the Iranian frigate IRIN Jamaran was eight nautical miles from Verbena and did not respond to the distress call.

CENTCOM added: “This continued malign and reckless behaviour by the Iranian-backed Houthis threatens regional stability and endangers the lives of mariners across the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. CENTCOM will continue to act with partners to hold the Houthis accountable and degrade their military capabilities.”

UK Maritime Trade Operations said on 15 June that Verbena was abandoned by its crew that day and that it is no longer under command and drifting unlit northeast of Djibouti.

The attacks on Tutor and Verbena show that the Houthi attacks are intensifying, despite attempts to negotiate a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. The Houthis claim they are targeting ships with links to Israel and its allies. Since the assaults began in November 2023, four seafarers have been killed and one bulk carrier, Rubymar, has sunk.

On 16 June, UKMTO alluded to another Houthi attempted assault against an unidentified vessel 40 miles south of Al Mukha, Yemen. Houthi spokesperson Yahya Saree however, asserted that the ship concerned is Latsco Shipping-managed products tanker Captain Paris.

UKMTO said, “The master of the ship reported “two explosions in close proximity to the vessel” at 01:30 GMT. Neither the ship nor its crew suffered any damage, however, and they continued their journey.”

Saree also claimed that on 16 June, the Houthis fired missiles against a US warship in the Red Sea, as well as drones against an LPG carrier, Happy Condor, in the Arabian Sea.


Martina Li
Asia Correspondent





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