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Explosion Reported on Greek-owned Ship Off Yemen

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A US Navy vessel is seen shadowing marine traffic near Yemen. File photo. Credit: Facebook/US Fifth Fleet

An explosion was reported near a Greek-owned merchant vessel off the coast of the port city of Aden, Yemen on Tuesday, Reuters reports.

The news agency says that the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) agency and British maritime security firm Ambrey confirmed the explosion.

Ambrey said a Marshall Islands-flagged, Greek-owned bulk carrier was targeted while heading through the Maritime Security Transit Corridor southbound about 53 nautical miles southwest of Aden.

The vessel, the Star Nasia, was traveling from the US to India. The explosion is understood to have occurred 50 meters off the vessel’s starboard side.

The vessel and crew were safe, both Ambrey and UKMTO said. No Greeks are believed to be among the crew.

Last month a video of the Houthi strike on a Greek ship in the Red Sea was released by private Skai TV on Friday evening.

The footage from a bridge camera shows the moment a missile hits the dry bulk vesselZografia, which sustained minor damage. There were no injuries among the crew.

Houthi fighters target ships off Yemen

The dangers for shipping in the Red Sea region have increased dramatically, as Iranian-backed Houthi fighters have targeted commercial shipping with drone and missile attacks, as well as more brazen assaults by boat and helicopter.

The Houthis, who control a large part of Yemen, have declared their backing for Hamas in its war with Israel, and say they are targeting commercial vessels with links to Israel.

They possess Qasef-1 and Qasef-2 drones with an estimated range of 200km, and others with a flying range of up to 1,800km. Their ground-launched missiles may be capable of striking ships up to 800km away.

Much of the world’s oil and natural gas originates from the region, and the Red Sea is used to transport roughly fifteen percent of the world’s shipping traffic.

With Houthis attacking dozens of ships since the war in Gaza erupted, trade flows have been hit at a time when supply strains and low demand are putting pressure on prices globally.

EU response to attacks on ships

The EU’s naval mission to protect commercial shipping in the Red Sea will be headquartered in Larissa, Greece, the bloc’s defense ministers agreed last week.

The naval mission dubbed Aspides, meaning shields or protector in Greek, is expected to be launched on February 19th to protect shipping from missile attacks by Houthi rebels in Yemen.

“Maritime security in the Red Sea has significantly deteriorated over the last weeks and we are very much advancing the work of a new maritime operation in order to act in a purely defensive mode to protect merchant vessels,” Josep Borrell, the bloc’s top diplomat confirmed after an informal meeting of defense ministers in Brussels.

“Our goal is to establish and launch this mission, Aspides, at the latest on the 19 February, I hope, and I’m sure, we will,” he added.

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