Houthis Sink Their First Ship

Yemen calls loss of the Rubymar in the Red Sea an 'environmental disaster'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 2, 2024 11:30 AM CST
Ship Abandoned After Strike by Houthis Sinks in Red Sea
This satellite image taken by Maxar Technologies shows the Belize-flagged ship Rubymar in the Red Sea on Friday.   (Maxar Technologies via AP)

A ship attacked by Yemen's Houthi rebels has sunk in the Red Sea after days of taking on water, officials said Saturday, the first vessel to be fully destroyed as part of their campaign over Israel's war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The sinking of the Rubymar, which carried a cargo of fertilizer and previously leaked fuel, could cause ecological damage to the Red Sea, the AP reports. Persistent Houthi attacks have already disrupted traffic in the crucial waterway for cargo and energy shipments moving from Asia and the Middle East to Europe. Already, many ships have turned away from the route.

The sinking could cause further detours and higher insurance rates for vessels plying the waterway—potentially driving up global inflation and affecting aid shipments to the region. The Belize-flagged Rubymar had been drifting north after being struck by a Houthi anti-ship ballistic missile on Feb. 18 in the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, a crucial waterway linking the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. Yemen's internationally recognized government, as well as a regional military official, confirmed that the ship sank.

Yemen's exiled government, which has been backed by a Saudi-led coalition since 2015, said the Rubymar sank late Friday as stormy weather took hold over the Red Sea. The vessel had been abandoned for 12 days after the attack, per the AP, though plans had been made to try to tow the ship to a safe port. The Iran-backed Houthis had falsely claimed the ship sank almost instantly after the attack. Ahmed Awad Bin Mubarak, the prime minister of Yemen's internationally recognized government, called the ship's sinking "an unprecedented environmental disaster."

(More Israel-Hamas war stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.