Ship severely flooded after Houthi attack in Red Sea

 A Yemeni man walks next to a billboard with images depicting the Houthi leader Abdul-Malik Badreddin al-Houthi, Lebanon Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah, and Yahya Sinwar, the Hamas military leader in the Gaza Strip, displayed on a street in solidarity with Palestinians on 10 June 2024, in Sana'a
The Houthis have declared support for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip [Getty Images]

The US military says a Greek-owned ship in the Red Sea has been hit by an unmanned surface vessel launched by the Houthis in Yemen, causing severe flooding and damage to the engine room.

The Royal Navy’s UK’s Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) office said it received reports of a ship being struck on the stern about 66 nautical miles southwest of the rebel-held port of Hodeida in Yemen on Wednesday.

The vessel was taking on water, and not under the command of the crew, UKMTO stated. No casualties were reported.

The Iranian-backed Houthis claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it had targeted a Liberian-flagged vessel named Tutor using a sea drone.

The Houthis have been attacking shipping in the Red Sea in support of the Palestinians in Gaza, causing significant disruption to world trade.

In a statement, a Houthi military spokesman said the ship was attacked "using an unmanned surface boat, number of drones, and ballistic missiles", adding that the ship was "seriously damaged, vulnerable to sinking".

The ship was targeted "because the company that owns the ship has violated the decision to ban entry into the ports of occupied Palestine", the statement said.

US Central Command (CentCom) reported that "one Iranian-backed Houthi unmanned surface vessel (USV)" struck the Tutor, which it said was most recently docked in Russia.

The impact "caused severe flooding and damage to the engine room", it posted on X.

CentCom added that its forces had "successfully destroyed" three anti-ship cruise missile launchers in a Houthi-controlled area of Yemen in the past 24 hours, as well as one drone launched from a Houthi-controlled area of Yemen over the Red Sea.

"This continued malign and reckless behavior by the Iranian-backed Houthis threatens regional stability and endangers the lives of mariners across the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden," it said.

The armed Houthi group sees itself as part of an Iranian-led "axis of resistance" against Israel, the US and the wider West, and has declared its support for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

Since November, the rebel group has been carrying out attacks on ships they say are linked to Israel in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, saying their actions are in support of the Palestinians.

The US and the UK have carried out a series of attacks on Houthi targets inside Yemen in response, leading the Houthis to retaliate against ships it believes are linked to those countries.

The rebels' attacks on merchant vessels in the Red Sea prompted many shipping companies to stop using the waterway, through which about 12% of global seaborne trade passes.

Separately, the UN has said Houthis in Yemen have detained two more of its employees, bringing the total number of personnel seized by the group in the past week to 13.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said one of its staff members was among those detained. WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on X he was “deeply worried” about the situation.