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EU Naval Force responds to suspected pirate hijacking of MV Ruen near Somalia



A Spanish navy frigate from the European Union’s Operation ATALANTA is heading towards the Maltese-flagged MV Ruen, which is believed to have been hijacked by pirates near Somalia. The crew has lost control of the vessel, but they are confirmed to be safe. The responding Spanish frigate, Victoria, armed with advanced weaponry, is quickly approaching the area to assess and respond to the situation. This incident, if verified as a pirate hijacking, would be the first major act of piracy since 2019.

Operation ATALANTA, the EU’s naval mission, has played a crucial role in reducing piracy and safeguarding maritime routes and humanitarian missions. It has resulted in the apprehension of 171 pirates. However, this incident highlights the ongoing challenges in ensuring maritime safety in the region, with the MV Ruen now heading towards Somalia.

The southern Red Sea is witnessing a resurgence of violence similar to the Somali piracy crisis from a decade ago. In response to this volatile situation, the US is reportedly preparing to establish a special multinational task force in the Red Sea to support merchant shipping.

In another incident, the Hapag-Lloyd containership, Al Jasrah, was hit by an aerial projectile while passing through the Bab Al Mandab Strait. The vessel sustained damage and a container fell overboard, causing a deck fire. Fortunately, there were no injuries among the crew. This attack follows a close encounter involving the MSC Alanya near Yemeni waters, where evasive maneuvers were necessary. The Maersk Gibraltar also narrowly evaded a missile attack while passing near Yemen. These series of attacks, carried out by the Iranian-backed Houthis, have increased in frequency, targeting various merchant ships.

The Houthis have connected their maritime campaign to the Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip. They have expressed their commitment to disrupt ships heading to Israeli ports in the Red Sea until essential supplies reach Gaza. The Houthi military spokesman, Brig. Gen. Yahya Saree, claimed responsibility for the attacks on the MSC Palatium III and Alanya, although Al Jasrah was the intended target. These incidents raise concerns about regional maritime security and impact critical shipping routes between Europe and Asia.

As the conflict between Israel and Hamas continues, global shipping faces escalating threats. In a notable incident in November, the Houthis seized an Israel-linked vehicle transport ship in the Red Sea near Yemen. An Israeli billionaire’s container ship also experienced a suspected Iranian drone attack in the Indian Ocean. The situation highlights the need for heightened vigilance and security measures in the maritime domain.

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USS Mason Foils Houthi Attack on Tanker in Southern Red Sea




Unveiling the High-Stakes Battle for Control in the Strategic Maritime Region

In a daring display of military prowess, the Arleigh-Burke class guided-missile destroyer USS Mason (DDG 87) successfully defended the Marshall Islands-flagged tanker Motor Vessel Ardmore Encounter from a Houthi attack in the southern Red Sea. The incident unfolded at approximately 0830 (Sanaa time) on December 13, when the Mason responded to a distress call from the tanker, which was under assault by Houthi forces.

The Houthi forces initially attempted to board the tanker using skiffs but were thwarted by the crew’s resolute defense. Undeterred, the Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen launched a pair of missiles at the vessel in a desperate bid to inflict damage. However, both missiles missed their target, thanks to the swift and decisive actions of the USS Mason.

While engaged in protecting the tanker, the Mason detected an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) launched from Houthi-controlled areas, hurtling towards the destroyer. In a remarkable display of self-defense, the Mason swiftly neutralized the threat by shooting down the UAV. Miraculously, no injuries were reported among the personnel, and no vessels suffered any damage during the engagement.

The successful defense of the Ardmore Encounter highlights the critical role played by the USS Mason in safeguarding maritime security in the Red Sea. This incident serves as a stark reminder of the ongoing battle for control in this strategically significant region, where Houthi forces continue to pose a threat to international shipping.

The United States Central Command has reaffirmed its commitment to ensuring the freedom of navigation and protecting vital trade routes in the Red Sea. The incident involving the USS Mason underscores the need for heightened vigilance and robust military capabilities to counter the evolving threats posed by Houthi forces.

As tensions persist in the region, it is imperative for international stakeholders to collaborate closely and share intelligence to effectively counter Houthi aggression. The United States, along with its allies, remains resolute in its determination to maintain peace and stability in the Red Sea and will not hesitate to respond decisively to any further provocations.

The battle for control in the Red Sea continues, and the USS Mason’s successful defense of the Ardmore Encounter serves as a testament to the unwavering commitment of the United States and its partners to protect global security and ensure the uninterrupted flow of commerce through this vital maritime corridor.

Kasim Abdulkadir

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