Yemen's Iran-backed Houthis claimed responsibility for a double missile strike on a cargo ship in the Red Sea on Monday, the latest attack since November as it blockades the vital trade route.
The Houthis identified the vessel as the Star Iris. While the group's military spokesman, Yahya Saree, stated that the ship was American, maritime-shipping trackers identified it as a Marshall Islands-flagged vessel, owned by a Greek company.
The British maritime security firm Ambrey disclosed that the vessel, reportedly heading toward Iran, was targeted by two separate missile attacks while navigating the Bab al-Mandab Strait. The vessel sustained damage to its starboard side as a result of the attacks, as confirmed by Ambrey.
Since mid-November, the Houthi militants have been launching drones and missiles at commercial ships, claiming retaliation against Israel's military actions in Gaza. While they claim to be attacking either Israeli or US-affiliated vessels, the attacks have impacted international vessels and disrupted global shipping operations. Several companies have been forced to reroute their vessels away from the Red Sea, opting for longer and costlier routes around Africa.
Ambrey stated that the bulker was en route to Bandar Imam Khomeini, Iran. "The group owner and operator regularly trades bulk cargo with Iran, so this was assessed to be the likely destination," the firm added.
Highlighting a potential motive for the attack, Ambrey noted that the group owner of the bulker is listed on the US stock market index NASDAQ. The US has come under fire since the war in Gaza after offering full support for Israel's right to defend itself for the October 7 invasion of Iran-backed Hamas, which sparked the bloodiest war since Gaza came under control of the Palestinian militia.