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French Frigate Assists Bulker Damaged in Houthi Attacks

damaged bulker
French and Italian forces inspected damage to the bulker Laax (Etat-major des Armees/France on X)

Published May 29, 2024 4:54 PM by The Maritime Executive

 

The French command detailed the support provided to the Marshall Islands-flagged bulker Laax that was repeatedly struck by Houthi missiles on Tuesday, May 28, while transiting the Red Sea. Over the course of an hour and a half at midday on Tuesday, at least five missiles were fired at the Laax (82,265 dwt) with the U.S. Central Command reporting that three struck the vessel.

A spokesperson for the Houthis today confirmed the attacks on the Laax saying they had caused severe damage. Pictures released by the French command show a waterline hole in the areas of the deckhouse. Another image shows that the number six cargo hold was struck with a cover askew and a hole in one of the leaves. 

The French command reports that one of its air defense frigates was operating in the area in support of two other merchant ships when the Laax was targeted. According to EUNAVFOR Aspides, a French vessel had recently arrived to expand the efforts and had just commenced its task of offering close protection within the area of operations.

 

 

The French frigate immediately went to the aid of the Laax and placed the damaged vessel under its protection until it left the danger zone. 

Today, a mine clearance team from the French forces stationed in Djibouti, reinforced by Italian soldiers, carried out an inspection of the impact zones to ensure the absence of residual dangerous materials. They worked to assure the safety of the crew. A report from the Joint Maritime Information Center said one crewmember was injured in the attacks but a security firm spokesperson denied injuries to Reuters. They also reported the vessel was stable and proceeding on course denying yesterday’s reports of a list and ingress of water.

The Laax, which is managed from Greece, was reporting its voyage originated in Paranagua, Brazil, and is bound for Iran while some reports suggest the vessel is heading to Fujairah in the UAE. After the inspection, the French and Italian forces left the bulker and according to the French command, the vessel has now resumed its journey according to the route initially planned.

France is highlighting that it “permanently commits resources” in the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, and the Indian Ocean to contribute to maritime security, freedom of navigation, and to enforce international law.