20240303 rubymar
Al Houthis claimed the February 18 attack against the ship Rubymar. Image Credit: Reuters file

LONDON: Projectiles struck two cargo ships off the coast of Yemen on Saturday night without causing any casualties, maritime security agencies said.

An Antigua and Barbuda-flagged cargo ship caught fire after being hit by a missile off Yemen on Saturday night, maritime security firm Ambrey said.

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“The ship was heading southwest along the Gulf of Aden at a speed of 8.2kts when the forward station was struck by a missile. A fire started but was neutralised,” Ambrey said in a statement.

A second missile was sighted but missed and “small boats in the vicinity opened fire on the ship” causing it to change direction to port.

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“No injuries were reported,” the security firm added.

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO), run by Britain’s Royal Navy, said an “unknown projectile” hit a vessel off Yemen around 2000 GMT on Saturday, setting a small fire in the mooring station that was extinguished.

“All crew are reported safe and the vessel is now proceeding to its next port of call,” it said.

In a separate incident on Saturday night, the UKMTO reported another projectile struck a ship “on the aft section”, resulting in a fire. No casualties were reported.

“Vessels are advised to transit with caution,” it said.

The attacks come amid a campaign of drone and missile strikes against Israeli-linked shipping by Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi militants.

The rebels’ attacks, which they say are in support of Palestinians, have prompted some shipping companies to detour around southern Africa to avoid the Red Sea, a route that normally carries about 12 percent of global trade.

Since January, the United States and Britain have launched retaliatory strikes on Huthi targets in Yemen in response to the attacks.

The strikes have done little to deter the Houthis, who have vowed to target US and British vessels as well as all ships heading to Israeli ports.