Houthi-controlled Yemen strikes Liberian-flagged ships in Bab al-Mandab Strait, U.S. official reports

Two Liberian-flagged ships were struck in the Bab al-Mandab Strait on Friday, in attacks emanating from Houthi-controlled Yemen, a U.S. defense official reported. The incidents underscore the growing threat to shipping lanes targeted by the Iran-aligned group.

According to the official, the German-owned Al Jasrah was hit by a projectile, likely a drone, igniting a fire but causing no injuries. In a separate attack, two ballistic missiles were launched, with one hitting another vessel and causing a fire that the crew is attempting to extinguish. A U.S. Navy destroyer is en route to assist, the official stated, without identifying the affected vessel.

The Houthi group has not claimed responsibility for these attacks. They have previously targeted vessels in Red Sea shipping lanes and fired drones and missiles at Israel, claiming to support the Palestinians.

A Hapag-Lloyd spokesperson, whose company owns Al Jasrah, confirmed the attack near the Yemeni coast, stating that additional safety measures will be implemented for their crews.

Ambrey, a British maritime security firm, reported two additional incidents in the area. The Liberia-flagged MSC ALANYA was allegedly approached by individuals identified as members of the Houthi movement, who instructed the ship to change course. A spokesperson for MSC confirmed there was no attack on the vessel.

In another report, Ambrey stated that the Liberia-flagged, Swiss-owned MSC PALATIUM III was targeted near Mokha. MSC declined to comment on this incident.