According to reports from US Central Command, two anti-ship ballistic missiles were launched at US-owned chemical tanker MV Chem Ranger at around 2100 hrs local time on January 18. A Houthi spokesperson initially claimed the attack resulted in direct hits to the vessel, but US Central Command since reported the missiles landing in the water near the ship with no injuries or damage reported.
UKMTO also carried multiple reports overnight of Uncrewed Aerial Systems flying close to merchant vessels and hitting the water around 800 m from a ship.
The attacks follow continued US strikes within Yemen targeting Houthi assets that pose a risk to shipping. US Central Command said that on January 18 at around 1540 hrs, its forces destroyed two Houthi anti-ship missiles that were aimed towards the southern Red Sea and ready to fire. The strikes were the fifth round of attacks on Houthi targets.
Since the US and UK military strikes in Yemen on Houthi targets, the rebels have intensified targeting of US-affiliated commercial and naval vessels with drone and missile attacks. Since the Chem Ranger attack, US President Joe Biden admitted that military action in Yemen has not deterred atttacks on merchant shipping.
"Ansar Allah (the ‘Houthis’) have broadened their attacks, to include vessels bound for Israel, or whose parent companies have co-operated with Israel. False targeting remains possible," said maritime risk management company Ambrey.
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