Saudi Forces Report Attempted Bomb-Boat Attack on Tanker off Yemen

Image courtesy Saudi Press Agency

Published Mar 4, 2020 9:32 PM by The Maritime Executive

Saudi Arabia's military said Wednesday that its forces prevented an "imminent terrorist attack" against an oil tanker about 90 nautical miles southeast of Nishtun, Yemen in the Arabian Sea. 

"The failed terrorist attempt was carried out at [1439 hours] on Tuesday 03 March 2020 during the [voyage] of the oil tanker headed to Aden port. The attempt was carried out using (4) boats and attempting to bomb the oil tanker using one of the unmanned, remote-controlled exploding boats," said Saudi spokesman Col. Turki Al-Malki in a statement. 

Images courtesy Saudi Press Agency

Saudi Arabia, the UAE and coalition partners back the government of Yemen in its war against the Iranian-backed Houthi rebel faction, which controls the country's northwestern quarter and about half of its Red Sea coastline. The Saudi coalition has reported previous remotely controlled "bomb-boat" attacks by Houthi forces in the Red Sea, including the successful strike on the Saudi frigate Al-Madinah in 2017. 

The location of Tuesday's attack was relatively unusual, as it was both far offshore and far from Houthi-held territory. It followed one day after the Houthi-led National Salvation Government approved plans “to confront Saudi-Emirati occupation in the occupied southern and eastern provinces” - the reported region of the incident. 

"The naval threat to the global energy security, sea lines of communication and international trade has evolved into a strategic threat to international security with the widening of terrorist organizations’ threats to sea straits from the Southern Red Sea, Bab-El-Mandeb strait and the Gulf of Aden to the Arabian Sea and the Strait of Hormuz," said Col. al-Malki in a statement. 

The Saudi coalition called for its international partners to redouble efforts to combat Houthi operations in the region. 

The U.S. Navy has intercepted multiple Iranian arms shipments believed to be intended for Houthi forces. Among other sophisticated weapons systems confiscated in these interdiction efforts, American boarding teams have found command-and-control equipment for building "bomb boat" waterborne IEDs.