On Wednesday evening another US-linked bulk carrier was attacked in the Gulf of Aden, with the US striking 14 Houthi missile launchers in Yemen only a short time after.
UKMTO reported that a vessel was hit on the port side by an Uncrewed Aerial System (UAS –a type of single-attack drone), while the ship was about 60nm southeast of Aden, Yemen. A fire was reported on board by the master, but he said that it was extinguished. “Vessel and crew are safe and proceeding to next port of call,” the report said.
UK based security consultant Ambrey said that “the vessel’s gangway incurred damage, and at the time of writing it was deemed not usable”.
The Houthis said the ship targeted was bulk carrier Genco Picardy (IMO 9301720), a Supramax vessel effectively owned by US-based and New York-listed Genco Shipping.
US Central Command eventually confirmed that the Marshall Islands-flagged Genco Picardy was struck by a one-way attack UAS launched from Houthi controlled areas in Yemen, with some damage being reported but no injuries. The vessel was seaworthy and was continuing underway, the update said.
Last week the vessel had been headed south in the Red Sea towards Bab al-Mandab, but on January 15th it doubled back on itself, and its AIS looks to have been turned off.
The US forces attack on 14 Houthi sites on Wednesday evening was termed by CENTCOM as a defensive move, as the Houthi missile launchers were loaded and ready to be fired. “These missiles on launch rails presented an imminent threat to merchant vessels and US Navy ships in the region and could have been fired at any time, prompting US forces to exercise their inherent right and obligation to defend themselves,” CENTCOM said.
Wednesday’s drone attack not only marked the third hit in three days on bulk carriers in the region – contrasting with attacks earlier in the month that were mainly on container ships – but was also a return to the fray of suicide drones. For a week after the initial US/UK attack on Houthi land bases the group had been firing single missiles rather than sending drones.
The Iranian-backed Houthis have now launched about 30 attacks on commercial shipping using either missiles, one-way attack drones, naval drones, or small craft, since the November 19th hijacking of the Galaxy Leader (IMO 9237307).
2005-built, Marshall Islands-flagged, 31,264 gt Genco Picardy is owned by Genco Picardy Ltd care of Genco Ship Management LLC of New York City. ISM manager is GS Shipmanagement Ovt Ltd of Chennai, India. It is entered with Skuld (Skuld Western Europe) on behalf of Genco Shipping & Trading Ltd. As of January 13th it was recorded as being in the Red Sea, en route from Safaga, Egypt, to Tuticorin, India.
2002-built, Bahamas-flagged, 48,710 gt Galaxy Leader is owned by Galaxy Maritime Ltd-IOM care of manager Ray Car Carriers Ltd of Douglas, Isle of Man. ISM manager is Stamco Ship Management Co Ltd. It is entered with West P&I (Claims Team Greece) on behalf of Galaxy Maritime Ltd. Reports stated that Markel was claims leader for the $65m hull policy on the vessel.