Houthis Continue Targeting MSC Vessels Claiming Four New Attacks

warship escorting MSC containership
French warship escorting an MSC vessel earlier in the month (Aspides)

Published May 9, 2024 2:09 PM by The Maritime Executive


The Houthi militants continue the targeting of MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company vessels with the repeated assertion that they are “Israeli ships.” MSC vessels have been among the most frequently targeted ships by the militants and in a new statement from their spokesperson Yahya Saree they are claiming to have fired on three ships a total of four times without providing details or confirmation.

While the report was issued on Thursday morning, May 9, the military tracking operations have not acknowledged any new attacks or reported receiving information from merchant ships in the region. The last confirmed intercepts came at the beginning of the week on May 6 and 7 by the U.S., Italian, and French warships providing escorts. British security consultants Ambrey reported an unconfirmed citing of a drone about 58 nautical miles southeast of Aden.

Saree claimed attacks on the MSC Diego (56,8889 dwt) and the MSC Gina (56,900 dwt) both of which are registered in Panama. Built in 1999, the ships appear to be long-term members of the MSC fleet with no known association with Israel despite the general statements by the Houthi. MSC shows that both ships are providing extra service in the region to Djibouti. The MSC Diego was coming from Oman and the MSC Gina from Sri Lanka.

The monitoring services are saying that there were missile launches from Yemen on Tuesday, May 7. These might have been targeting the two MSC vessels, both of which were in the Gulf of Aden. The Joint Maritime Information Center is saying that neither vessel was hit and they were proceeding.

The Houthi also claimed two unconfirmed attacks on the MSC Vittoria (108,641 dwt). The vessel also registered in Panama shows as eastbound to India currently. According to Saree, they fired twice on the ship, the first time in the Indian Ocean and the second time in the Arabian Sea. This would have been a long-distance attack but he did not provide timing and none of the services received information on these attacks. Built in 2006, it is another ship that has long been in the MSC fleet with no known association with Israel.

Analysts and executives in the industry have said they believe the Houthi are craving international attention. Some of the announcements they believe are for the attention and the coverage of their cause is likely to continue to drive these statements and reports of attacks.

It is unclear why MSC has been among the most targeted other than the broad reach of its network. The corporation is based in Switzerland although reports link Israeli investors to the privately held company.

EUNAVFOR Aspides which is coordinating the EU-led security operation is highlighting that it passed 100 close protection efforts for the safe transits of vessels. The operation has been in place for three months joining the French which are operating independently and the U.S. efforts.