Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile Hits U.S.-Owned Container Ship In Gulf Of Aden

A Marshall Islands-flagged, U.S. owned and operated container ship was struck by a Houthi anti-ship ballistic missile on Monday, U.S. Central Command said.

There were no injuries or significant damage to the vessel, the M/V Gibraltar Eagle, which is continuing its journey. The vessel is a 200-meter long Ultramax container ship, according to its U.S. owner, Eagle Bulk Shipping.

The M/V Gibraltar Eagle was struck by an anti-ship ballistic missile, according to CENTCOM. (YouTube screencap)

According to Lloyd’s List Intelligence,  “Automatic Identification System [AIS] data shows the Eagle sailing west through the Gulf of Aden before abruptly changing direction near the incident’s reported location around [1:30 p.m.] local time. It stopped broadcasting AIS about two and half hours later.”

The @MarineTraffic open source ship tracking site reported that the ship had a destination as “TR ARM GUARD ONBOARD.”

Earlier on Monday, the Royal Navy’s United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations tracking system stated that a ship’s master reported a vessel was hit from above by a missile about 95 nautical miles southeast of Aden, Yemen.

Eagle Bulk Shipping said that it was hit by an “unidentified projectile” while sailing 100 miles off the Gulf of Aden and suffered limited damage to its cargo hold, and no seafarers were injured, Reuters reported.

“As a result of the impact, the vessel suffered limited damage to a cargo hold but is stable and is heading out of the area,” Eagle Bulk said in a statement, adding that it was carrying a cargo of steel products.

We’ve reached out to the vessel’s owners for more details.

You can read more about the Houthi’s array of anti-ship weapons, which includes smaller ballistic types that could result in only limited damage to a large ship, in our story here.

Earlier in the day, at approximately 2 p.m. Sanaa time, U.S. forces also detected an anti-ship ballistic missile fired toward the Southern Red Sea commercial shipping lanes, according to CENTCOM. The missile failed in flight and impacted on land in Yemen.

These latest attacks come a day after a ground-based U.S. fighter shot down a Houthi anti-ship cruise missile heading toward the Arleigh Burke class guided missile destroyer USS Laboon and days after the U.S. and U.K. lunched attacks against Houthi targets in Yemen. The Yemeni militants have threatened to retaliate against U.S. bases in the region, but have not as yet, a U.S. defense official told The War Zone Monday morning.

Qatar suspended liquefied natural gas (LNG) shipments via the Red Sea and six more oil tankers changed direction as disruption to the crucial trade route extended to the energy sector after U.S.-led strikes against Houthi militants, Reuters reported.

“LSEG shiptracking data showed that Qatar’s Al Ghariya, Al Huwaila and Al Nuaman vessels had loaded LNG at Ras Laffan and were heading to the Suez Canal before stopping off in Oman on Jan. 14,” Reuters reported. “The Al Rekayyat, which was sailing back to Qatar, stopped along its route on Jan. 13 in the Red Sea.”

“It is a pause to get security advice, if passing (through the) Red Sea remains unsafe we will go via the Cape,” the source told Reuters on Monday regarding QatarEnergy.

The longer route round Africa’s Cape of Good Hope, which various shipping firms have opted for, can add about nine days to the normally 18-day trip from Qatar to northwest Europe.

An infographic titled ‘Vessel traffic down 20% in Red Sea due to rerouting” created in Ankara, Turkiye on January 8, 2024. Ship traffic in the Red Sea decreased by 20% in December 2023, as shipping companies suspended their operations or shifted their routes to the Cape of Good Hope. (Photo by Yasin Demirci/Anadolu via Getty Images)

The Hapag Lloyd shipping company told The War Zone it was halting shipping in the region.

“We decided today to avoid the Red Sea and go via the Cape of Good Hope until next Monday – then we will decide again,” spokesman Nils Haupt said.

This is a developing story. We will update it when additional details are provided.

Update: 6:53 PM Eastern –

The Houthis have issued a statement on today’s anti-ship ballistic missile attack.

“The naval forces of the Yemeni Armed Forces carried out a military operation targeting an American ship in the Gulf of Aden, with a number of appropriate naval missiles, and the hit was accurate and direct,” the Yemeni Armed Force said. “All American and British ships and warships involved in the aggression against our country are considered hostile targets by the Yemeni armed forces. The Yemeni Armed Forces confirm that a retaliation to the American and British attacks is unavoidable, and that no future attack will go unpunished.”

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