British cargo ship sinks after Houthi missile attack in Red Sea - becoming first vessel destroyed in rebels' campaign

2 March 2024, 13:02 | Updated: 2 March 2024, 13:29

A British-registered ship has sunk in the Red Sea
A British-registered ship has sunk in the Red Sea. Picture: Getty

By Emma Soteriou

A British-registered cargo ship has sunk after being hit by Houthi missiles in the Red Sea.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

The Rubymar is the first vessel to be fully destroyed as part of the Houthis' campaign over Israel's war against Hamas.

The ship had been drifting northward after being attacked on February 18 in the Bab el-Mandeb Strait - a waterway linking the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.

The attack occurred on the Sunday night, the UK's Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) said.

The crew were forced to "abandon the vessel", with the UKMTO later confirming that all crew were safe and an investigation had been launched.

Read more: 'Our democracy is under threat': Rishi Sunak says as he claims streets are being ‘hijacked’ by extremists

Read more: Joe Biden confuses Gaza with Ukraine twice as he announces plans to airdrop aid

The Rubymar cargo ship sinking off the coast of Yemen
The Rubymar cargo ship sinking off the coast of Yemen. Picture: Getty

Yemen's internationally recognised government, as well as a regional military official, confirmed the ship had since sunk.

The Rubymar's Beirut-based manager could not be immediately reached for comment.

Yemen's exiled government, which has been backed by a Saudi-led coalition since 2015, said the Rubymar sank late on Friday as stormy weather took hold over the Red Sea.

The vessel had been abandoned for 12 days after the attack but plans to tow it to a safe port had been considered.

The Iran-backed Houthis, who previously claimed the ship sank almost instantly after the attack, did not immediately acknowledge the ship's sinking.

The sinking cargo ship
The sinking cargo ship. Picture: Getty

Several ships have already been forced to take detours to avoid the route, with more disruption expected now the ship has sunk.

Last weekend, the US and UK launched more strikes against Houthi targets in eight locations across Yemen.

The targets included weapons storage facilities, attack drones and air defence systems.

The Houthis have been attacking ships in the Red Sea since the end of 2023 in a campaign intended to back Palestinians amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.