Lloyd's List is part of Maritime Intelligence

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Maritime Insights & Intelligence Limited, registered in England and Wales with company number 13831625 and address c/o Hackwood Secretaries Limited, One Silk Street, London EC2Y 8HQ, United Kingdom. Lloyd’s List Intelligence is a trading name of Maritime Insights & Intelligence Limited. Lloyd’s is the registered trademark of the Society Incorporated by the Lloyd’s Act 1871 by the name of Lloyd’s.

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use. For high-quality copies or electronic reprints for distribution to colleagues or customers, please call UK support at +44 (0)20 3377 3996 / APAC support at +65 6508 2430

Printed By


Sunken Rubymar’s only UK link was its disputed insurance cover

UK insurer Thomas Miller identified as the insurer behind Lebanon-owned bulker

Yemeni Houthis sank the Belize-flagged bulker Rubymar on the basis of data that wrongly linked the Lebanese owners to a residential block of flats in Southampton. Now, amid a dispute between the ship’s owner and its insurer, it may fall to Yemen to clean up a fuel oil slick, 21,000 tonnes of ammonium phosphate sulphate and a navigation hazard

THE two missiles that sank Belize-flagged bulker Rubymar (IMO: 9138898) last week were fired on the basis of an outdated UK address linked to the Lebanon-based owners which, in the eyes of the Houthi rebels, made the vessel “British”.

That address — a private apartment inside a residential block of flats in Southampton recorded in the Equasis public database — has not been linked to the Rubymar’s owner, Mr Hassan Chahadah, for several years, Lloyd’s List can confirm.

The operator of the vessel is a Lebanese registered company, incorporated in the Marshall Islands and ultimately owned by Lebanese national Captain Wael Chahadah. The crew, who were forced to abandon ship after the missiles struck and the bulker started taking on water, were Egyptian, Syrian and Filipino. The flag authorities investigating the incident are in Belize City.

Despite being widely reported as British-owned, it turns out that the only UK link to Rubymar was its insurance, which is now being disputed by the owners, who have been told that war risk was not part of the fixed-premium deal they signed up to.

Thomas Miller Specialty, a commercial Managing General Agency writing a variety of niche and specialist lines of business, has confirmed that it provided P&I cover for Rubymar.

According to the owners’ lawyer, however, there is a dispute between the owner and TMS over the extent of the cover provided, as the owner had assumed basic war risk was included.

Normally, marine liabilities rest with P&I clubs, but most club rule books explicitly exclude from cover any liability, costs or expenses arising from an act of war or terrorism.

On February 13, TMS advised that their reinsurers were no longer able to support war risks exposures within the Indian Ocean, Gulf of Aden and Southern Red Sea.

“As a result we are regrettably forced to alter the scope of coverage afforded to our Assureds,” TMS stated in a circular noting that the changes would enter into force at noon on February 20, two days after Rubymar was first hit by Houthi missiles.

TMS told Lloyd’s List “it is not our policy to comment on our assured’s cover nor claims”.

The assumed Britishness of the vessel appears to have confused both the Houthis and the British government, where the Department For Transport condemned the attack and confirmed that Rubymar had “limited UK links”.

The link to the residential flat in Southampton stems from old ownership records linking the Rubymar’s registered ownership in public databases to Golden Adventure Shipping S.A., an entity registered in the Marshall Islands on May 4, 2006.

Golden Adventure S.A. has historical ties with Brilliant Marine S.A., an entity ultimately controlled by the Chahadah family of Lebanon. That company was dissolved in 2015. But its director, Capt Wael Chahadah, was given as the point of contact for Golden Adventure Shipping S.A. and a forwarding address in Southampton was recorded and remain unchanged in databases ever since, despite the flat having nothing to do with Rubymar.

The Rubymar’s technical and ISM manager is GMZ Ship Management Company S.A. — a company that is registered in Honduras but operates out of Lebanon.

Rubymar was carrying 21,000 tonnes of ammonium phosphate sulphate fertiliser from the United Arab Emirates to Bulgaria and had been chartered by Saudi Arabian commodities and mining company Ma’aden.



The ship has already caused a 29 km slick from leaking fuel, but the cargo now presents an environmental risk in the Red Sea, according to the US government and environmental NGOs. It also presents a subsurface impact risk to other ships transiting the busy shipping lanes of the waterway.

While the 28-year-old bulker finally sunk on March 2, the owners had been trying for a week to hire salvors in a bid to prevent the ship from causing further environmental damage.

Three separate salvage companies, including Greek firm Tsavliris, had been negotiating directly with the owners and readying rescue crews, however all three refused to sign without explicit agreements of naval support, which ultimately did not emerge in time to save the ship.

According to the owner’s lawyer, negotiations broke down the day before the vessel sunk amid reports that a further Houthi missile had landed near Rubymar.

Houthi leader Mohammed Ali al-Houthi had stated on social media that the Iran-backed group would only allow a salvage operation to take place if humanitarian aid is sent to Gaza.

Given the continuing threat posed by Houthi attacks it remains unclear whether any salvage crew would now be prepared to tackle the pollution from the sunken vessel, which lies approximately 30 km west of Yemen’s Red Sea port of Mokha.

Its position implies that the onus would be on the coastal state, in this case Yemen, to pursue any claims for pollution compensation or wreck removal.

Responsibility for the clean-up of oil spills would normally fall to the International Oil Pollution Compensation Funds. However Rubymar is a bulk carrier not an oil tanker and therefore IOPC Funds do not apply.

The International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage could apply. However, the treaty states: “No liability for pollution damage shall attach to the shipowner if the shipowner proves that: (a) the damage resulted from an act of war, hostilities, civil war, insurrection or a natural phenomenon of an exceptional, inevitable and irresistible character.”

Ultimately that could mean that if there are any claims for compensation, it would be up to national courts of the coastal state to analyse which international treaties, if any, apply or whether it is up to the national legislation.

Given that the Houthis have already claimed responsibility for causing the damage, that means it is likely to fall to Yemen to resolve the issue.

Meanwhile, two weeks after the vessel was first attacked, the Rubymar’s flag state authorities have responded to the incident.

“Currently, we are working on our internal investigation and report," the Belize registry’s technical manager and focal point for casualty within the IMO told Lloyd’s List via email on Tuesday.

“As soon as we finalise it and we obtain the green light from the government, we will be able to discuss further.” 


Related Content


  • Related Vessels
  • Related Companies
  • Related Places
  • UsernamePublicRestriction



    Ask The Analyst

    Please Note: You can also Click below Link for Ask the Analyst
    Ask The Analyst

    Your question has been successfully sent to the email address below and we will get back as soon as possible. my@email.address.

    All fields are required.

    Please make sure all fields are completed.

    Please make sure you have filled out all fields

    Please make sure you have filled out all fields

    Please enter a valid e-mail address

    Please enter a valid Phone Number

    Ask your question to our analysts