The Saudi-led coalition battling Yemen’s Houthi forces has destroyed two explosive-laden boats that the Iran-aligned group planned to use in an “imminent” attack launched from the Red Sea port of Hodeidah, Saudi state media reported on Sunday.
The coalition in separate statements also said it intercepted and destroyed three armed drones launched towards southern Saudi Arabia, including the city of Khamis Mushait.
The Houthis, who ousted Yemen’s internationally recognised government from the capital, Sanaa, and now hold most of north Yemen, have kept up missile and drone attacks on Saudi Arabia after Riyadh last week presented a new peace initiative.
U.S. Special Envoy Tim Lenderking on Thursday returned to the region to push for the initiative, which includes a nationwide ceasefire.
The Houthis want the coalition to fully lift its sea and air blockade on areas the group controls.
The conflict, seen in the region as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, has caused what the United Nations says is the world’s largest humanitarian crisis.
The Houthis say they are fighting a corrupt system and foreign aggression.
A vessel reported being approached at 26°20’ N 56° 01’ E (21nm North of port Mina Saqr) by a small grey boat with three (3) POB wearing masks. Vessel and crew are safe
An MT was boarded. All crew remained safe in citadel awaiting nearby patrol vessel. At 12:43 UTC the vessel was under escort. Incident completed. Vessel and crew are safe.
Barendrecht, The Netherlands, March 12, 2021 – De Poli Shipmanagement report that following an attack by pirates in the Gulf of Guinea, West Africa fifteen crewmembers have been taken from its chemical tanker DAVIDE B. Six other seafarers of the vessel are safe and unhurt and remain on board of the ship which is currently attended by security personnel that have arrived on scene. DAVIDE B came under attack whilst sailing some 210 nautical miles south of Cotonou, Benin.
De Poli Shipmanagement are greatly concerned about the attack on its vessel and seafarers. The company’s main priority now is to establish contact with the missing crew in order to secure their earliest and safe release. De Poli Shipmanagement’s Emergency Response Team are liaising with all relevant authorities who have been notified immediately after the incident which occurred at appx. 15.00 UTC on Thursday. The company are in close contact with the families of the seafarers to support them in this extremely difficult time.
DAVIDE B is a 2016 built chemical tanker which was on a commercial voyage from Riga, Latvia to Lagos, Nigeria. The vessel is flying the Maltese flag.
For the time being De Poli Shipmanagement will not be providing any further information in order not to jeopardize the safety of those involved.
UPDATE 0250 UTC Mar 12: AIS is still off, Nigerian offshore supply ship QUA IBOE RIVER (IMO 9246360) is nearby.
Product tanker DAVIDE B was attacked and boarded by armed pirates at around 1515 UTC Mar 11 in Gulf of Guinea some 220 nm south of Lagos Nigeria, while en route from Riga Latvia to Lagos. All crew mustered in citadel, and understood, are awaiting assistance. Ship’s AIS is off since the time pirates boarded tanker. Awaiting further updates, as of 0030 UTC Mar 12 situation is unclear.
Tanker manager De Poli Shipmanagemen issued an official Statement:
Shipmanagement Statement MT DAVIDE B attack
Barendrecht, The Netherlands, March 11, 2021 – De Poli Shipmanagement report that today at appx 15.00 UTC its managed chemical tanker DAVIDE B came under attack of pirates some 210 nautical miles south of Cotonou, Benin.
Meanwhile contact has been established with the crew of the vessel who have taken shelter in the citadel of the ship. All relevant authorities have been informed and are attending to the situation.
De Poli Shipmanagement would like to stress the safety and wellbeing of the seafarers on board is a prime concern to the company.
An MT has been boarded by 9 armed individuals 213nm South Cotonou. Incident ongoing.
Overnight on 10th March 2021, a robbery occurred on board an MV in Luanda anchorage, Angola. The ship and crew reported to be safe
This is the first incident of this nature within the Eastern Gulf of Aden within 2021 with the last recorded incident recorded as an attack on the 4th December 2020. The incident follows two suspicious approach incidents which occurred within a 24hr period approximately 34nm northwest of Pointe A IRTC (International Recommended Transit Corridor), in the Gulf of Aden, in January 2021.
The reported approach is understood to have occurred 105nm southeast of the Yemeni Port of Nishtun, which has long been a key Saudi asset, both in the Yemeni Civil War, and long-term agroeconomic interests.
The Saudi-led Arab Coalition continues to operate out of Nishtun, with naval assets often docking for operations in the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea. An important mid-point between the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea, Nishtun has been considered an end-point for oil pipelines running for Saudi Arabia and through inland Yemen.
Iranian forces have been rumoured to be using the Al Mahra region (and by extension Nishtun) to smuggle weapons, drones and missile parts to Houthi rebels.
In January 2021, the Saudis are understood to have prevented commercial vessels from unloading goods at Nishtun for several days with no explanation given.
Saudi Arabia said some of the world’s most protected oil infrastructure came under missile and drone attack in an escalation of regional hostilities that pushed up crude prices.
The attacks on Sunday were intercepted, Saudi Arabia said, and oil output appeared to be unaffected. But the latest in a spate of assaults claimed by Iran-backed Houthi rebels briefly pushed oil prices to above $70 a barrel for the first time since January 2020 and will likely complicate efforts by U.S. President Joe Biden to engage in nuclear diplomacy with Iran.
The attacks are the most serious against Saudi oil installations since a key processing facility and two fields came under fire in September 2019, cutting production for about a month and exposing the vulnerability of the kingdom’s petroleum industry. Yemen’s Houthi fighters claimed responsibility for that attack although Riyadh and Washington pointed the finger at arch-rival Iran. The U.S. held back from military confrontation and said at the time it would boost air and missile defenses in the kingdom.
On Monday, the U.S. said its commitment to defend Saudi Arabia is “unwavering.” In a Twitter post, the U.S. mission in Riyadh condemned the attacks, which it said demonstrated a “lack of respect for human life” and a “lack of interest in the pursuit of peace.”
An oil storage tank farm at the Ras Tanura export terminal on the Persian Gulf coast was attacked by a drone from the sea, according to the Energy Ministry. Shrapnel from a missile also landed close to a residential compound for employees of national oil company Saudi Aramco in Dhahran, where windows shook and witnesses said they took shelter. The compound is home to families of Saudi and expat employees, and there’s a U.S. consulate nearby. Ras Tanura is about an hour by car up the coast.
“Both attacks did not result in any injury or loss of life or property,” a spokesman for the Saudi Energy Ministry said. Two people familiar with the situation also said oil output was unaffected, and on Monday loading in the Ras Tanura area was continuing, with tankers docking on the north pier and sea islands.
Saudi Oil Under Fire
Aramco targeted in attacks claimed by Yemen’s Houthis
Brent crude rose as much as 2.9% to $71.37 a barrel on Monday, before paring gains. Oil had already received a boost from an OPEC meeting last week, when ministers agreed to keep a tight leash on supply.
Ras Tanura’s airspace is heavily defended: it is close to a large Saudi air base and its offshore loading terminals are equipped with protection against undersea attack. The Houthis launched eight ballistic missiles and 14 bomb-laden drones at Saudi Arabia, a spokesman for the group, Yahya Saree, said in a statement to rebel-run Al Masirah television.
“This does not seem as effective an operation as the previous one,” said Douglas Barrie, a senior fellow at the U.K.-based International Institute for Strategic Studies.
Ras Tanura is the world’s largest oil terminal, capable of exporting roughly 6.5 million barrels a day — nearly 7% of oil demand. The port includes a large storage tank farm where crude is kept before it’s pumped into super-tankers. A refinery at the same site is Aramco’s oldest and largest.
Riyadh Blames U.S. Policy
Saudi Arabia leads a military coalition which has been fighting the Houthis in Yemen since 2015. On Sunday it said a recent U.S. decision to stop designating the Houthis as terrorists had fueled the rise in attacks, sharpening its tone against Washington.
The Biden administration has moved to ditch the designation after the United Nations warned of famine in the Arabian Peninsula’s poorest nation if aid was disrupted. The administration of Donald Trump adopted the label toward the end of his time as president, and it was seen as a way of increasing pressure on Iran.
Adds “The Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia will likely further complicate efforts of the Biden administration to negotiate a follow-on nuclear agreement with the Iranians,” Helima Croft, the head of global commodity strategy and MENA research at RBC Capital Markets in New York, wrote in a research note.
During his campaign for president, Biden pledged to rejoin a multiparty nuclear pact with Iran that Trump had exited before imposing sanctions. But Washington and Iran are locked in a standoff over which government should make the first move.
Bottom of Form
Disappointed at the slow pace of developments, Iran could be returning to its “traditional playbook of leverage-building and pressure tactics in multiple arenas,” said Sanam Vakil, deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa Program at Chatham House.
“What Iran risks, I think is overplaying its hand and underestimating the level of ‘Iran fatigue’ in the international community,” she said, adding Tehran could stymie diplomatic efforts aimed at reentering the deal through such “leverage-building attacks.”
The Houthis have stepped up assaults on Saudi Arabia and last week claimed they hit an Aramco fuel depot in Jeddah with a cruise missile. It wasn’t clear if there had been any damage.
The attacks have also provoked a retaliation in Yemen — the coalition bombarded the capital Sana’a with air strikes on Sunday, saying it was targeting the Houthis. The conflict has already killed tens of thousands of people and triggered what the UN says is the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
“The Houthis are escalating missile attacks and being pro-vocational to make gains in the negotiations and back-channeling taking place in the context of the Yemen war,” Vakil said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday accused Iran of attacking an Israeli-owned ship in the Gulf of Oman last week, a mysterious explosion that further spiked security concerns in the region.
Without offering any evidence to his claim, Mr. Netanyahu told Israeli public broadcaster Kan that “it was indeed an act by Iran, that’s clear.”
“Iran is the greatest enemy of Israel, I am determined to halt it. We are hitting it in the entire region,” Mr. Netanyahu said. Iran promptly dismissed the charges.
The blast struck the Israeli-owned MV Helios Ray, a Bahamian-flagged roll-on, roll-off vehicle cargo ship, as it was sailing out of the West Asia on its way to Singapore on Friday. The crew was unharmed, but the vessel sustained two holes on its port side and two on its starboard side just above the waterline, according to American defence officials.
Source: The Maritime Post
A robbery occurred on a MV in Luanda anchorage. The thieves left the vessel unnoticed with ship equipment on deck. The crew is safe.