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Chinese-owned oil tanker attacked off Yemen by Houthi rebels


A Chinese-owned oil tanker came under attack off Yemen on Saturday when Houthi rebels fired ballistic missiles at it, according to the US military.
Both CENTCOM and the UK Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) confirmed that a fire broke out on the ship but was quickly put out within half an hour.
“March 23, the Iranian-backed Houthis launched four anti-ship ballistic missiles (ASBM) into the Red Sea in the vicinity of M/V Huang Pu, a Panamanian-flagged, Chinese-owned, Chinese-operated oil tanker.At 4.25 pm (Sanaa time), a fifth ballistic missile was detected as fired toward M/V Huang Pu. The ship issued a distress call but did not request assistance. M/V Huang Pu suffered minimal damage, and a fire on board was extinguished within 30 minutes. No casualties were reported, and the vessel resumed its course. The Houthis attacked the MV Huang despite previously stating they would not attack Chinese vessels,” US Central Command (CENTCOM) posted on social media platform X (formerly Twitter) early Sunday.

The Marinetraffic website later tracked the Huang Pu sailing out of the Red Sea towards the Gulf of Aden, heading for its next destination, New Mangalore in India. The attack, which struck 23 nautical miles west of the Yemeni port of Mokha, had no immediate claim of responsibility. Despite the rebels previously stating they would not target Chinese vessels, they launched five anti-ship ballistic missiles at the Huang Pu, as disclosed by CENTCOM.
“The tanker’s registration details, including name and operator, had been changed as recently as February 2024”, according to maritime security agency Ambrey. Originally registered in 2019 by British firm Union Maritime Ltd, the vessel had connections to a company previously targeted by the Houthis. The rebels have threatened to attack ships from Israel, the UK, and the US, as well as those heading to Israeli ports, disrupting trade in the region.
Following the assault on the Huang Pu, US forces intercepted six drones launched by the rebels, with five crashing into the Red Sea and the sixth entering a Houthi-controlled area of Yemen, as per CENTCOM. The United States, leading an international coalition to safeguard Red Sea shipping, has been targeting Houthi positions in Yemen since mid-January.
The rebels, backed by Iran, have been targeting ships in the Red Sea frequently over the past few months in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza.
(With AFP inputs)

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