The Iran-backed Houthi militia, based in Yemen, are reported to have hijacked car carrier Galaxy Leader (IMO 9237307) in the Red Sea on November 18th. The vessel had been en route from Korfez, Turkiye, to Pipavav, India, ETA November 24th. It left Korfez on November 12th.
The last AIS from the ship was on November 18th when it was some 350nm north-north-west of Hodeidah, Yemen.
The distance from Yemen was just one of the several puzzling aspects of the case. The vessel apparently was hijacked in the belief that it was owned by an Israeli company. The Iran aligned Houthis had said that all Israeli ships would be considered enemy vessels.
But any connection to Israel would be tangential at best. The Israeli Defence Forces said on social media that the vessel was “staffed by civilians of various nationalities, not including Israelis. It is not an Israeli ship”.
The vessel is in fact British-owned (out of the Isle of Man) and Japan-operated . Its ISM manager operates out of Piraeus.
The Houthis said they had seized a ship and described it as Israeli. “We are treating the ship’s crew in accordance with Islamic principles and values,” a spokesperson for the group said.
Last week, the Houthi leader said his forces would make further attacks on Israel and they could target Israeli ships in the Red Sea and the Bab al-Mandeb Strait.
A US Defence official said that “we are aware of the situation and are closely monitoring it”.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said that there were no Israelis on the seized ship, and that Israel was not involved in either its ownership or operation.
“This is another Iranian act of terrorism that represents an escalation in Iran’s belligerence against the citizens of the free world, with concomitant international ramifications vis-à-vis the security of global shipping routes.”
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.