Yemen's Houthis hit US-owned ship in the Gulf of Aden

The US military says there were no injuries after a drone launched from Houthi-controlled areas hit the Genco Picardy bulk carrier. The US has launched fresh strikes against the Iran-backed militants

Yemen's Houthi rebels launched a bomb-carrying drone into a US-owned ship on the day Washington redesignated them a terrorist group (photo: DW)
Yemen's Houthi rebels launched a bomb-carrying drone into a US-owned ship on the day Washington redesignated them a terrorist group (photo: DW)


Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for an attack on a US-owned vessel in the Gulf of Aden on Wednesday, 17 January.

The Iran-backed militant group's spokesman Yahya Sarea said the attack resulted in a "direct hit."

The US military confirmed the incident with United State Central Command (CENTCOM) saying on social media platform X, formerly Twitter, that "a one-way attack UAS was launched from Houthi controlled areas in Yemen and struck M/V Genco Picardy in the Gulf of Aden."

CENTCOM went on to also confirm  that there were no injuries although some damage was reported. "M/V Genco Picardy is seaworthy and continuing underway." 

US-based shipping company says crew uninjured

The drone strike on the Genco Picardy is the second such attack in recent days. It follows US-led strikes against the Houthis in response to their targeting of merchant ships in the Red Sea.

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) — an arm of the British navy that oversees Middle East waterways — said the attack took place some 70 miles (110 kilometers) southeast of Aden.

The UKMTO said the ship's captain reported there was fire onboard that had been extinguished. "Vessel and crew are safe and proceeding to next port of call," it added. 

According to vessel-ownership data the Genco Picardy's owner is listed as New York-based Genco Shipping & Trading Ltd.

The company acknowledged the attack and said the vessel had been transporting a load of phosphate rock.

"All seafarers aboard the vessel are confirmed to be uninjured," the company said. "An initial inspection by the crew indicates that damage to the vessel's gangway is limited, and the vessel has remained stable and underway on a course out of the area."

US carries out renewed strikes against Houthi sites

The US has meanwhile launched a new wave of missile strikes on Houthi-controlled sites, according to government officials. 

A total of 14 strikes were launched from the Red Sea and hit more than a dozen sites, the military said. 

The Houthi-controlled Saba news agency said on Thursday that US and British aircraft had targeted a number of areas in Yemen.

The governorates that were targeted were Hodeidah, Taiz, Dhamar, al Bayda and Saada, the agency reported.

US redesignates Houthis as terror group

Wednesday saw the US place the Houthi rebels back on its list of specially designated global terrorists. US officials said the move was aimed at cutting off their funding and weapons in a bid to stop the militants' attacks on shipping in the region.

"This designation is an important tool to impede terrorist funding to the Houthis, further restrict their access to financial markets, and hold them accountable for their actions," White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said in a statement.

"If the Houthis cease their attacks in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, the United States will immediately reevaluate this designation," Sullivan said.

Former President Donald Trump's administration designated the Houthis as global terrorists and a foreign terrorist organization in 2021, in one of his final acts in office.

The decision was reversed by President Joe Biden early on, who cited the humanitarian threat that the sanctions posed to ordinary Yemenis.

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Published: 18 Jan 2024, 8:25 AM