Shipping industry groups call for action after Houthis sink second vessel

Organisations decry the ‘unacceptable situation’ of assaults by Yemeni group against vessels in the Red Sea.

US sailors assist mariners rescued from the Liberian-flagged, Greek-owned bulk carrier M/V Tutor that was attacked by Houthis in the Red Sea [File: US Naval Forces Central Command/US 5th Fleet/Handout via Reuters]

Leading shipping industry groups have called for action to halt Houthi attacks on vessels in the Red Sea after the sinking of a second ship.

The organisations condemned the incidents as a violation of freedom of navigation and said in a joint statement on Wednesday that they target “innocent seafarers”.

“This is an unacceptable situation, and these attacks must stop now,” read the statement from groups including the World Shipping Council, European Community Shipowners’ Associations and Asian Shipowners’ Association.

“We call for States with influence in the region to safeguard our innocent seafarers and for the swift de-escalation of the situation in the Red Sea.”

Yemen’s Houthi armed group has been launching attacks on shipping lanes in the region since November in what it says is an effort to support Palestinians and pressure Israel to end its war on Gaza.

In response, the United States and its allies have attacked Houthi targets in Yemen since January.

The Houthis, however, have pledged to continue targeting ships if Israel continues to press its war on Gaza. More than 37,000 people have been killed in Israel’s assault on Gaza since October 7, according to Palestinian authorities.

Second ship sinks

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) said on Tuesday that the Tutor, a Greek ship targeted by the Houthis last week, appears to have sunk.

According to the shipping groups, the missing crew member on the vessel “seems certain to have been killed” in the June 12 attack.

“It is deplorable that innocent seafarers are being attacked while simply performing their jobs, vital jobs which keep the world warm, fed, and clothed,” the statement said.

The Houthis have launched dozens of military operations against ships since November, using drones, missiles and explosive-laden boats. The group initially said it would target ships linked to Israel but later expanded that to ships it said were linked to the US and some allies.

While most of the attacks have not resulted in deaths, an assault on a Barbados-flagged ship killed three sailors in March.

Another attack on a Ukrainian-owned vessel last week set the ship ablaze and severely injured one crew member.

In their statement, the shipping industry groups also called for the release of the crew members of the Galaxy Leader, a cargo ship seized by the Houthis in November.

Source: Al Jazeera