Commercial Ship In Flames After Red Sea Missile Attack

A commercial vessel is in flames in the Red Sea after being attacked by at least one missile fired from Houthi-controlled territory in Yemen, two U.S. officials tell The War Zone.

The M/T Strinda was attacked by a missile coming out of a Houthi-controlled area in Yemen, two U.S. military officials told The War Zone. The vessel is battling a fire, the officials said. It was struck 60 miles north of the narrow Bab el-Mandab Strait, one of those officials told us. The Strinda is a Norwegian-owned chemical tanker, according to its owner, Mowinckel Chemical Tankers AS.

The Arliegh Burke class guided missile destroyer USS Mason responded to an emergency call and is now in sight of the Strinda, three officials told us. All three spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss operational details.

This marks the second time in two weeks that the Mason has been involved in a situation involving missiles fired from Yemen. Nov. 27, two ballistic missiles fired from Yemen came down in the Red Sea in the vicinity of the destroyer USS Mason (DDG-87). At the time, the warship was concluding its response to a distress call from the M/V Central Park, a commercial vessel that had itself come under attack from a group of armed raiders that had attempted to board it.

The attack on the Strinda comes days after France said one of its frigates in the Red Sea downed two Houthi drones flying toward it.

And this is just the latest case of Houthi missiles hitting commercial vessels. As we previously reported, on Dec. 3, three missiles fired from Houthi-controlled territory in Yemen struck three commercial ships in the Red Sea Sunday, U.S. Central Command said in a statement. The Arleigh-Burke class guided-missile destroyer USS Carney responded to distress calls from two of those vessels and downed three drones approaching it. 

On Saturday, in conjunction with the Army-Navy game, the Navy released a video supporting the sea service featuring vivid video of the Carney responding to Houthi attacks.

The Houthis have repeatedly attacked shipping in the Red Sea and launched missiles and drones at Israel. There have been several instances where U.S. Navy vessels have also had to shoot down Houthi drones and missiles. On Nov. 19, the Houthis staged a helicopter-borne raid on the Galaxy Leader, a Bahamian-flagged vehicle carrier transiting the Red Sea. The Houthis still hold the ship and its 25 crew members. A U.S. military official told The War Zone it is believed to be the first Houthi helicopter-borne raid on a ship. You can read more about these incidents and others involving the Houthis in our story here.

Speaking to reporters Monday hours before the latest attack, Air Force Maj. Gen. Patrick Ryder, the Pentagon’s top spokesman, had no details to provide on a new international maritime effort to protect shipping there through the creation of a new task force.

“We continue to take this very seriously and we continue to consult with allies and partners around the world about a maritime task force, in order to address this,” Ryder said.

This is a developing story.

Update: 8:33 PM Eastern –

We received additional information about what struck the ship as well as the location of the attack. The Strinda was hit by a land-based cruise missile about 60 nautical miles north of the Bab el-Mandab. No one was injured in the attack and no U.S. vessels were near it when the attack occurred, a U.S. official tells us.

We also updated this story to change the designation of the ship to M/T.

Update: 8:41 AM Eastern 12/12 –

Houthi spokesman Yahya Sare’e claimed credit for the attack on the Strinda, stating without proof that it was headed to Israel.

“The naval forces of the Yemeni Armed Forces carried out a qualitative military operation against the Norwegian ship [Strinda], which was loaded with oil and headed to the Israeli entity. It was targeted with a suitable naval missile.”

The vessel’s owner, J. Ludwig Mowinckels Rederi, said the tanker was loaded with palm oil and en route from Malaysia to the Suez Canal and then on to Italy when it was attacked, Norwegian national broadcaster NRK reported

Update: 12:30 PM Dec. 12 –

France says its French Navy (Marine Nationale) FREMM Frigate Languedoc, patrolling off the coast of Yemen, was also involved in the Strinda incident, shooting down a drone threatening the vessel.

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Howard Altman Avatar

Howard Altman

Senior Staff Writer

Howard is a Senior Staff Writer for The War Zone, and a former Senior Managing Editor for Military Times. Prior to this, he covered military affairs for the Tampa Bay Times as a Senior Writer. Howard’s work has appeared in various publications including Yahoo News, RealClearDefense, and Air Force Times.