Merchant Ship Sinks After Houthi Attack

A civilian cargo freighter that was struck by a missile fired by Houthi rebels in Yemen has sunk weeks after the initial attack. The destruction of the vessel marks the first successful sinking by the Yemeni rebels after almost five months of attacks on military and civilian vessels.

The Houthi rebels struck the British-owned freighter Rubymar, which was carrying fertilizer. The vessel was struck by a missile two weeks ago. The Belize-flagged vessel started to take on water and leaking fuel.

The crew was successfully evacuated.

The sinking was confirmed by U.S. Central Command and the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations headquarters.

The Pentagon released an image of the vessel underwater. According to U.S. Central Command, the ship was carrying about 21,000 metric tons of ammonium phosphate sulfate fertilizer.

The Pentagon said that the sinking represented “an environmental risk in the Red Sea.”

“As the ship sinks it also presents a subsurface impact risk to other ships transiting the busy shipping lanes of the waterway,” said a statement from U.S. Central Command.

There is also concern about the flow of leaked oil from the vessel into the Red Sea.

The sinking comes amid ongoing military operations against the Houthis, who are fighting the American-recognized government in Yemen. Despite the American and British airstrikes against Houthi targets, the rebel group has continued its attacks on military and civilian vessels in and around the Red Sea.

Over the weekend, an Italian Navy vessel shot down a drone believed to be launched by the Houthis.

The Biden administration recently re-added the Houthis to their list of terrorist organizations after initially reversing the designation by the Trump administration.

The Houthis initially claimed that the Rubymar had sunk after the initial February rocket impact.

The Rubymar is the first vessel confirmed sunk by the Houthis, but the group hit a number of other civilian vessels since October. Another vessel linked to an Israeli businessman was hijacked and its crew of 25 taken prisoner.

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