Trafigura assessing Red Sea risks following strike on products tanker

International commodities trader Trafigura is in the process of assessing the security implications of any future voyages it might make in the Red Sea region. The announcement at the weekend followed a Houthi strike on Friday January 26th on chemical oil products tanker Marlin Luanda, (IMO 9829899) which caused on cargo hold to catch fire (see yesterday’s IMN).

Trafigura said that, for the moment, “no further vessels operating on behalf of Trafigura are currently transiting the Gulf of Aden and we continue to assess carefully the risks involved in any voyage, including in respect of security and safety of the crew, together with shipowners and customers”.

The Marlin Luanda crew fought a fire in one cargo tank on the vessel’s starboard side, Trafigura said. The fire took about six hours to extinguish, the company said, adding that no crew were injured. The vessel was sailing towards safe harbour, Trafigura said.

After a distress call was issued on Friday US Central Command sent the USS Carney to assist. Also helping was the Indian navy’s guided missile destroyer INS Visakhapatnam. The Indian Navy said that the vessel had 22 Indian nationals and one Bangladeshi on board.

The Marlin Luanda was carrying Russian naphtha, bought in accordance with the price cap set by the west early last year, a Trafigura spokesperson said on Friday.

Some eight hours after the Marlin Luanda incident unfolded the US military destroyed a Houthi anti-ship missile that was aimed into the Red Sea and ready to launch, CENTCOM said, noting that the missile “presented an imminent threat to merchant vessels and the US Navy ships in the region”.

The Houthis’ Al-Masira television said on Saturday that the US and UK launched two air strikes that targeted the port of Ras Issa, Yemen’s main oil export terminal.

Trafigura says it would like to recognise the exceptional dedication and bravery of the ship’s master and crew who managed to control the fire in highly difficult circumstances, as well as the essential assistance provided by Indian, US and French Navy vessels.

Later on Saturday a Royal Navy warship, the HMS Diamond, repelled a drone attack from Yemen’s Houthi group in the Red Sea, the UK Ministry of Defence said. “Deploying her Sea Viper missile system, Diamond destroyed a drone targeting her with no injuries or damage sustained to Diamond or her crew”, said the MoD.

2018-built, Marshall Island-flagged, 63,338 gt Marlin Luanda is owned by Polar 18 Ltd care of Oceonix Services Ltd, London, UK. ISM manager is Suntech Ship Management of Singapore. It is entered with Steamship Mutual (European syndicate) on behalf of Polar 18 Ltd.