Houthis Armed with New Iranian-Designed Missile as Attacks Increase

Image of a reported missile test in Iran (Tasmin News Agency - CC BY 4.0)

Published May 29, 2024 1:22 PM by The Maritime Executive


In their latest announcement, the Houthis reported that they have increased the attacks on shipping in response to the continued assaults on Gaza and now specifically the Israeli actions in and around Rafah. They claimed attacks in the Red Sea, Indian Ocean, and the Mediterranean on a total of six ships while Iran’s Tasmin News Agency reports the Houthis have a new missile based on an Iranian design.

The article from the semi-official Iranian news agency says that the Houthis now have a missile based on the Iranian Ghadr. They claimed greater accuracy but did not discuss range while saying the missile is fitted with an “optical seeker” to target ships. Independent reports said the ballistic missile can also be fired from sea. Tasmin said it was an advancement on the Thunder 69 missile which was Chinese with a range of 150 km (93 miles).

The United States has repeatedly accused Iran of arming the Houthis. Iran’s foreign ministry did not respond to an inquiry from Reuters about the Tasmin report.

While the Houthis alleged a barrage of attacks only one has been confirmed by the international forces. That was the multiple missile assault on the Greek-owned bulker Laax, which was hit twice on Tuesday. It is believed that at least five missiles were fired at the one ship with U.S. Central Command confirming it was stuck by three anti-ship ballistic missiles. The Houthis and others all said there was severe damage.

A spokesperson for a security firm told Reuters that the Laax was damaged but denied the reports that the vessel was listing. Independent reports yesterday said the vessel was taking on water in one of its cargo holds. The spokesperson told Reuters the vessel is loaded with grain and while damaged is proceeding at a normal speed. 


French forces inspected the Laax and escorted it from the danger zone (FFEAU.ALINDIEN)


The Philippines’ Department of Migrant Workers reported that it had been in touch with the shipping agent and confirmed that the 13 Filipino crewmembers were uninjured. They said they had been told, “the bombing caused severe damage.” Separately, the Joint Maritime Information Center however said it had been informed that one crewmember on the Laax was injured, but they did not identify the nationality.

Also in the Red Sea, the Houthis reported targeting two Greek-owned bulkers both registered in Malta and managed by Eastern Mediterranean Maritime. The Morea built in 2015 is 63,280 dwt and reports it is traveling from Russia to India. The Sealady was built in 2016 and is 60,436 dwt and is displaying a message on her AIS saying guards are aboard with a Russian cargo.

In the Arabian Sea, the Houthis reported targeting two “American” ships. The Alba, a 91,972-dwt bulker is registered in Portugal and reported managed by Peter Doehle in Germany. She is reported heading from the UAE to Algeria. The Maersk Hartford (84,783 dwt) is one of the U.S. registered containerships operated by Maersk Line Ltd. and was last reported rounding Africa on a trip from Spain to the UAE.

Finally, the Houthis also claimed their second attack on a vessel in the Mediterranean. The Minerva Antonia (46,923 dwt) is a Greek-registered product reported in the anchorage in Egypt. Last week, the Houthis also claimed an attack on another vessel which was reported to be the anchorage in Egypt.

CENTCOM however reported that its forces destroyed five drones over the Red Sea overnight. The U.S. response appears to be expanding with CENTCOM saying that two more drones were destroyed on May 29. On May 28, U.S. forces also destroyed two missile launchers in a Houthi-controlled area of Yemen and two more missiles landed in the Red Sea. They did not report additional attacks on specific vessels nor did the UK Maritime Trade Organizations.