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Three crew confirmed dead and several more seriously injured as Houthis claim a second casualty

Barbados-flagged bulker True Confidence hit by Houthi rockets causing suspected fatalities among the 20 crew on board

Liberia-registered, Greece-operated and Barbados-flagged bulker is targeted as ‘American’ on the basis of old links to US investor group Oaktree Capital Management

THREE crew are dead and three more are in critical condition after Houthi rockets hit the Barbados-flagged bulker True Confidence (IMO: 9460784) in the Gulf of Aden on Wednesday.

The ship sustained serious damage, with reports citing a large plume of smoke erupting from the vessel following a series of loud explosions.

All remaining crew have abandoned ship and coalition naval vessels are engaged in what they described as a “rescue and salvage operation”.

The British embassy in Yemen said the sailors’ deaths were the “sad but inevitable consequence of the Houthis recklessly firing missiles at international shipping” and insisted the attacks had to stop.

The ship was targeted by the Houthis, who described the vessel as “American”, suggesting that out-of-date information regarding the vessel had once again been the rationale for the attack.

True Confidence is registered to a Liberian entity, True Confidence Shipping, and operated by Third January Maritime Ltd of Piraeus, Greece, however before February 24 the vessel had links to US investment group Oaktree Capital Management.

Oaktree have confirmed that they no longer have any association with the vessel.

That change in ownership, however, had not been updated in several shipping databases and is thought to have been used by the Houthis as part of its targeting criteria.

“It was not a US ship, contrary to what the Houthis claimed. These reckless attacks by the Iran-backed Houthis have not only disrupted global trade and commerce but also taken the lives of international sea — seafarers simply doing their jobs,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.

“We will call on governments around the world to join us in bringing to a halt these appalling attacks,” Jean-Pierre continued. 

“I extend my deepest condolences and those of the entire IMO family to the families of those who have lost their lives, and our thoughts are with those who have been injured. Innocent seafarers should never become collateral victims,” said IMO secretary-general Arsenio Dominguez.

The attack occurred at approximately 0930 hrs UTC on Wednesday approximately 50 nautical miles southwest of Aden.

The Barbados-flagged vessel has a crew of 20, comprising one Indian, four Vietnamese and 15 Filipino nationals. Three armed guards were also on board: two Sri Lankan and one Nepalese. 

The vessel is drifting and still on fire.

True Confidence was on passage from China to Jeddah and Aqaba with a cargo of steel products and trucks.

The attack followed an earlier report during which a vessel reported being hailed by an entity declaring itself to be the Yemeni Navy. During previous incidents in the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea, the Houthis have hailed several vessels declaring to be the Yemeni navy and ordered vessels to alter course.

Industry guidance recommends ships conducting transit in the region do not respond to such hails. In the past this has resulted in the Houthis firing missiles or drones at the hailed vessel.

The attack represents the most severe human impact yet on a vessel sailing through the Gulf of Aden.

Earlier this week a Houthi missile caused a fire on an MSC container vessel which was ultimately extinguished by crew. The Houthis also recently claimed their first sinking of a ship, when Rubymar (IMO: 9138898) finally sunk after an attack in February.

The targeting of  Rubymar was also on the basis of erroneous information, which led the Houthis to believe that the vessel had links to the UK that later proved to be wrong.


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