In a significant escalation of the Red Sea crisis, the Marshall Islands-flagged tanker Marlin Luanda was struck by a missile launched by Yemen’s Houthi rebels.
This attack, which caused a fire onboard the tanker, adds complexity to the already volatile situation in the Middle East, particularly with the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
Attack on Marlin Luanda: Crew’s response
The crew aboard the Marlin Luanda successfully extinguished the fire caused by the missile strike, as confirmed by Trafigura, the Singapore-based firm managing the vessel.
The crew, comprising 25 Indian nationals and two Sri Lankans, faced no injuries. “We are pleased to confirm that all crew on board the Marlin Luanda are safe, and the fire in the cargo tank has been fully extinguished,” Trafigura stated.
The vessel, carrying Russian-produced naphtha, is now headed to a safe harbor.
International military response and environmental concerns
Following the attack, the Indian Navy’s INS Visakhapatnam assisted firefighting.
The ship’s cargo, bound for Singapore, raises environmental concerns due to the flammable nature of naphtha.
Brig. Gen. Yahya Saree, a Houthi military spokesman, claimed responsibility for the attack, indicating the continuation of such assaults.
Houthis escalate attacks on Red Sea shipping
Since November, Houthi rebels have increasingly targeted vessels in the Red Sea, aligning with their stance against Israel’s actions in Gaza.
These attacks have often targeted ships with no direct connection to Israel, posing a threat to international shipping.
Recent Houthi declarations also include American and British ships as targets, following an incident where U.S. Navy forces intercepted Houthi projectiles aimed at American-flagged ships.
Global reactions and diplomatic tensions
China, heavily reliant on seaborne trade through the Red Sea, has called for calm in the region.
The U.S. hopes to leverage China’s influence over Iran, a vital supporter of the Houthis, to de-escalate tensions.
Conversely, Russia has criticized the U.S. and UK for their military responses to Houthi actions and has engaged with the rebel group in Moscow.
Historical context and current security concerns
The U.S. Navy’s top Mideast commander likened the current situation to the Tanker War of the 1980s, highlighting the severity of the Houthi attacks.
In a separate incident, a vessel in the Arabian Sea encountered an armed confrontation, indicative of rising piracy activities in the region.
Growing international focus on maritime security amid Red Sea tensions
As the situation unfolds, the international community remains alert to the increasing maritime threats in the Red Sea and Arabian Sea.
The involvement of various global powers and the region’s strategic significance underscore the complexity of finding a resolution to the escalating conflict.
Rob Samuelson is a writer who splits his time between Chicago and Asheville, North Carolina. He writes the Punk Rock Mister Rogers Substack blog.