Attacks from Houthi-controlled Yemen struck two Liberian-flagged ships in the Bab al-Mandab Strait on Friday, a U.S. defence official said, underlining the threat to vessels in shipping lanes being targeted by the Iran-aligned group.
A projectile, believed to be a drone, struck one of the vessels, the German-owned Al Jasrah, causing a fire but no injuries, the official said.
Two ballistic missiles were fired in the second attack, one of which struck a vessel, causing a fire which the crew was working to extinguish, the official said.
A U.S. Navy destroyer was on its way to aid the vessel, the official said, without naming the vessel.
The Houthis said in a statement that they had fired missiles at two ships – the MSC Alanya and MSC Palatium III. Their statement made no mention of Al Jasrah.
An MSC spokesperson said there had been no attack on the Alanya. Asked about the Houthi claim of an attack on the Palatium III, the spokesperson provided no further comment.
The Houthis said both vessels had been heading to Israel.
However, Alanya and Palatium III both listed Jeddah in Saudi Arabia as their destination, according to data from ship tracking and maritime analytics provider MarineTraffic.
“We will continue to prevent all ships heading to Israeli ports until the food and medicine our people need in the Gaza Strip is brought in,” the Houthi statement said.
“We assure all ships heading to all ports of the world apart from Israeli ports that they will suffer no harm and they must keep their identification device on,” it said.