Trafigura assesses Red Sea risks after tanker attacked by Houthis

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    The container ship, Safeen Pride, with a destination of ‘HODEIDAH (ARMED GUARDS)’ seen at sea on January 17, 2024 in Djibouti, Djibouti. 

    Luke Dray | Getty Images

    Commodities trader Trafigura said on Saturday it was assessing the security risks of further Red Sea voyages after firefighters put out a blaze on a tanker attacked by Yemen’s Houthi group a day earlier.

    The U.S. military said a U.S. Navy ship and other vessels provided assistance after the Marlin Luanda was hit by a Houthi anti-ship missile.

    “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,” a Trafigura statement said.

    Some shipping companies have suspended transits through the Red Sea, which is accessed from the Gulf of Aden, and taken much longer, costlier journeys around Africa to avoid being attacked by Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi group, which began launching waves of exploding drones and missiles at vessels on Nov. 19 in response to Israel’s military operations in Gaza.

    The Houthi attacks have primarily targeted container vessels moving through the Red Sea. Many fuel tankers have kept using the route.

    A notable exception is QatarEnergy, the world’s second largest exporter of liquefied natural gas, which earlier this month stopped sending tankers via the Red Sea, citing security concerns.

    Over several hours early on Saturday the Marlin Luanda’s crew battled a blaze in one cargo tank on the vessel’s starboard side, Trafigura’s said in a statement.

    By Saturday afternoon, the blaze was extinguished and all crew were safe, Trafigura said.

    “The vessel is now sailing towards a safe harbor,” Trafigura said, adding that the firefighting effort had been supported by Indian, U.S. and French navy vessels.

    The Marshall Islands-flagged Marlin Luanda issued a distress call on Friday and reported damage, U.S. Central Command said in a post on X, formerly Twitter. The USS Carney and other coalition ships were providing assistance to the tanker, it said.

    India’s navy deployed INS Visakhapatnam, a guided missile destroyer, after receiving a distress call from the Marlin Luanda, which had 22 Indian and one Bangladeshi crew on board, an Indian Navy spokesman said.

    The tanker was carrying Russian naphtha purchased below the price cap in line with G7 sanctions, a Trafigura spokesperson said on Friday.

    U.S. and British warplanes, ships and submarines have responded to the Houthi attacks on shipping in recent weeks with dozens of retaliatory strikes across Yemen against Houthi forces.

    About eight hours after the Marlin Luanda incident, the U.S. military destroyed a Houthi anti-ship missile that was aimed into the Red Sea and ready to launch, Central Command said.

    The missile “presented an imminent threat to merchant vessels and the U.S. Navy ships in the region”, it said.

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

    It was not clear if this was the strike referred to by Central Command, and the U.S. Fifth Fleet did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    The British Defence Ministry declined to comment.



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