The vessel shipping for trading giant Trafigura is reportedly transporting Russian-origin naphtha for making plastics, gasoline
A petroleum-products tanker operated on behalf of Trafigura was struck by a Houthi missile in the Gulf of Aden after transiting the Red Sea, several outlets reported on Friday, citing the commodities-trading giant. According to Marine Traffic, the Marshall Islands-flagged Marlin Luanda was traveling from Greece to Singapore. The vessel caught fire after the attack.
“Firefighting equipment on board is being deployed to suppress and control the fire caused in one cargo tank on the starboard side. We remain in contact with the vessel and are monitoring the situation carefully. Military ships in the region are [on their] way to provide assistance,” Trafigura stated on its website.
A company spokesperson told Bloomberg that the vessel is carrying Russian-origin naphtha – a light-end oil product primarily used to make plastics and petrochemicals. The tanker collected the cargo via a so-called ship-to-ship transfer near Lakonikos Bay in southern Greece, according to data from analytics firm Kpler.
Houthi rebels have claimed they carried out the strike on the ship. The Islamist group, which controls a large part of Yemen, has been attacking vessels crossing the vital waterway between the Red Sea and the Suez Canal since the escalation of the Israel-Palestine conflict, in what it claims is a show of solidarity with the Palestinians. Amid the attacks, many shipping companies have suspended travel in the region.
Last month, a US-led coalition deployed a naval taskforce to the area to safeguard shipping, and began striking Houthi targets in Yemen. In addition, the US and UK imposed sanctions against the group. The Houthis, in turn, started attacking ships linked with these countries.
In an interview with Russian news outlet Izvestia earlier this month, Houthi spokesman Mohammed al-Bukhaiti pledged that the group would not attack vessels linked with Russia.
“As for all other countries, including Russia and China, their shipping in the region is not threatened. Moreover, we are ready to ensure the safety of the passage of their ships in the Red Sea, because free navigation in the area is important for our country,” he emphasized.
Moscow has not yet commented on the latest strike. It has repeatedly called on the Houthis to stop attacks on ships traversing the waterway but has also condemned the US and UK attacks on targets in Yemen, saying these would only escalate hostilities in the region.
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