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Video shows Houthis attack cargo ship with sea drone seemingly disguised as a fishing boat


In it, armed security guards aboard what was identified as the Liberian-flagged, Greek-owned Tutor can be seen observing what seems to be the crude-looking naval drone – likely packed with explosives – as it slowly approaches the ship unobstructed.

Shortly after the attack was first reported, United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations, an element of the British Royal Navy, described the USV as a “small craft” that was white in colour and between 5-7 metres (16-23 feet) in length, matching the description of the drone in the videos.

Open-source intelligence accounts also shared photos of the apparent damage caused to the Tutor, revealing a clear puncture in the wall and water inside the vessel. US Central Command said the ship “remains in the Red Sea and is slowly taking on water”.

With the Tutor effectively stranded at sea, the crew was forced to evacuate. On Saturday, a US Navy helicopter airlifted 24 mariners to the guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea.

From there, the individuals were then transported to the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, where they were medically checked before being flown to shore. The US warship has been at the forefront of the fight against the Houthis.

A Filipino sailor was killed in the attack, the White House said on Monday.

US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said that a Sri Lankan crew member was critically wounded in a separate Houthi attack on Thursday on the M/V Verbena, a Palauan-flagged, Ukrainian-owned, Polish-operated ship.

The crew eventually abandoned their vessel due to the damage sustained, marking the second time that’s happened in the area in just a matter of days.

The Iran-backed Houthis have launched dozens of drone and missile strikes in the vital shipping zones of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden since November, describing them as retaliation for the Israel-Gaza war.

“This is pure terrorism. There’s simply no other word for it. The Houthi claim of supporting Gazans is meritless,” Kirby told reporters.

Last week’s attack marked the Houthis’ first successful USV strike. Previous attempts either saw the naval drones destroyed by Western forces, or they detonated in the water without hitting anything.

“This continued malign and reckless behaviour by the Iranian-backed Houthis threatens regional stability and endangers the lives of mariners across the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden,” the US military said on Saturday, adding that it “will continue to act with partners to hold the Houthis accountable and degrade their military capabilities”.

Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse



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