UK and allies ‘reserve right to respond appropriately’ after Gulf of Aden strike

The US and the UK fired two airstrikes targeting the port of Ras Issa in Yemen’s Hodeidah province, which hosts the main oil export terminal on Saturday, according to a report by the Houthi’s Al-Massira television.

The coalition strikes by the US and the UK come shortly after the Yemeni Houthi rebels amped up their attacks on vessels transiting through the Red Sea, attacking a British oil tanker which caused it to catch fire on Friday.

No immediate comment has been issued by the UK and the US confirming the strike on the rebel group on Saturday.

A US Navy ship was providing assistance to the oil tanker hit in the Gulf od Aden, the US military said. The US Central Command said the Marshall Islands-flagged Marlin Luanda issued a distress call and reported damage, and officials sent the USS Carney and other coalition ships for providing assistance.

About eight hours later, the US military destroyed a Houthi anti-ship missile that was aimed into the Red Sea and ready to launch, Central Command said.

The missile “presented an imminent threat to merchant vessels and the US Navy ships in the region,” it said.

Shortly after the attack on a tanker in the Gulf of Aden on Friday, a British government spokesperson said that Britain and its allies “reserve the right to respond appropriately”.

“We have been clear that any attacks on commercial shipping are completely unacceptable and that the UK and our allies reserve the right to respond appropriately,” the spokesperson said.

The vessel, Marlin Luanda, was sent up in flames after an attack off the coast of Yemen and no casualties have been reported so far.

Multinational firm Trafigura, which has offices in London, told The Independent an oil tanker operating on its behalf, the Marlin Luanda, was struck by a missile in the Red Sea on Friday, with fire fighting equipment currently in use to battle the flames and military ships on their way to assist.

Yemen’s Houthis claimed their naval forces carried out an operation in the Gulf of Aden targeting a vessel, which it described as a British oil tanker. They used “a number of appropriate naval missiles, the strike was direct,” the Houthi military spokesperson Yahya Sarea said in a statement.

Military ships were en route to assist on Friday as Trafigura said the safety of crew on the vessel, which is operated on its behalf, is its “foremost priority”.

The targeted vessel was originally reported to be British. Shipping data suggests it sails under the flag of the Marshall Islands.

UK Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) reported an incident 60 nautical miles south east of Aden, saying authorities have been informed and are responding.

British maritime security firm Ambrey said the crew have been reported safe.

The rebel militant group has repeatedly launched attacks on ships in the Red Sea since November over Israel’s war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip, though they have frequently targeted vessels with tenuous or no clear links to Israel, imperiling shipping in a key route for global trade.

But they have frequently targeted vessels with tenuous or no clear links to Israel, endangering shipping on a key route for global trade.

On Thursday, the US and UK imposed sanctions on four leaders of Yemen‘s Houthi rebel group who have supported the militant group’s recent attacks on vessels in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.