First Vessel Sinks in Red Sea after Houthi Rebel Attack

The Rubymar, a Belize-flagged vessel under British ownership, has sunk within the Red Sea following an attack by Yemen’s Houthi militants who have affiliations with Iran, says officials. This marks the first ship to be fully destroyed in an ongoing campaign in relevance to the conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

The Rubymar had been inoperable and drifting towards the north after being hit by a ballistic missile on February 18 in the Bab el-Mandeb Strait. This strait is a strategic water passage that connects the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea.

US Central Command released a statement on Saturday evening indicating that the ship was loaded with around 21,000 tons of ammonium phosphate sulfate fertilizer. The sinking of the shipping vessel poses a notable environmental risk to the Red Sea. The statement further mentions that the sinking ship also represents a potential underwater danger to other vessels passing along the busy transport lanes of the strait.

The sinking was confirmed by Yemen’s internationally recognized government and a regional military official. The relevant details had not been approved for release at the time, causing the official to choose to remain anonymous.

The Rubymar cargo ship’s sinking off Yemen’s coast on February 27, 2024 was captured in a photograph.

The Beirut-based manager of the Rubymar could not be immediately contacted for a comment.

Late Friday, amidst a storm over the Red Sea, the Rubymar reportedly went under, as per Yemen’s exiled government. The government, which has received support from a Saudi-led coalition since 2015, mentioned the vessel had been deserted for a period of 12 days post the militant attack. There were initial plans to tow the vessel to a safe harbor.

The Rubymar, a cargo ship Belize-flagged, under British registration and managed by Lebanese, was damaged from a missile strike that took place on February 25. This was claimed to be the work of the Huthi rebels backed by Iran, who were carrying combustible fertilizer.

Despite claims made by the Iran-supported Houthis that the ship had sunk immediately after the attack, they have yet to officially acknowledge the incident.