Greece merchant vessel evacuated following Houthi-led Red Sea attack News
Christian Ferrer, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Greece merchant vessel evacuated following Houthi-led Red Sea attack

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) on Friday said that the Tutor, a Greek merchant vessel that was attacked by Houthi rebels, has been evacuated and left adrift in the Indian Ocean. The incident occurred on Wednesday when Houthi militants fired missiles at the cargo ship. The Iranian-backed Houthi militants have been attacking merchant ships linked to Israel since November 2023. The US and UK have responded through military strikes.

The US Central Command, in a press release at the time of the incident, said:

[…] Iranian-backed Houthis launched two anti-ship ballistic missiles (ASBM) from Houthi controlled areas of Yemen over the Red Sea. There were no injuries or damage reported by U.S., coalition, or commercial ships. Additionally one Iranian-backed Houthi unmanned surface vessel (USV) struck M/V Tutor, a Liberian flagged, Greek owned and operated vessel, in the Red Sea. M/V Tutor most recently docked in Russia. The impact of the USV caused severe flooding and damage to the engine room.

This continued malign and reckless behavior by the Iranian-backed Houthis threatens regional stability and endangers the lives of mariners across the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.

A spokesman for the Yemeni Armed Forces (YAF) released a press release following the attack on the Tutor, saying that the military operation targeting the Tutor ship in the Red Sea was due to the “company that owns it violating the decision” of the Houthi to “ban enemy entry” to ports.

The US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) released a report Thursday, on the impact of the Houthi attacks on international trade. The report says that at least 65 countries have been impacted by the Red Sea attacks, with “at least 29 major energy and shipping companies” altering their “routes to avoid Houthi attacks”. It notes that the attacks are “compounding ongoing stress to global maritime shipping caused by interruptions at the Panama Canal due to drought” and endangering the lives of crew members. Moreover, “humanitarian relief for Sudan and Yemen is being delayed by weeks”.

In January, the UK and US sanctioned “key figures in the Houthi regime”, in a bid to “disrupt” Houthi militants’ ability to disrupt international trade through Red Sea attacks.

The Houthi declared on X that they will continue to act against Israel and prevent Israeli ships from “navigating Arab and Red Seas in solidarity with Palestinians”. Human Rights Watch commented in December that this is a war crime, highlighting that the ships targeted by Houthi are civilian ships.

Taking hostages is prohibited under international law, including under Common Article 3 to the 1949 Geneva Conventions, and is a war crime. Additionally, Yemen is party to “over 20 bilateral and multilateral investment treaties” which “offers protections to foreign companies”. The EU condemned the attacks, in December, as a violation of navigational rights and freedoms in waters. The statement underlined that the attacks threaten the movement of food, fuel, humanitarian assistance, and other essential commodities to destinations and populations all over the world.

In January, the UK released a joint statement on the attacks, stating:

[o]ngoing Houthi attacks in the Red Sea are illegal, unacceptable, and profoundly destabilising. There is no lawful justification for intentionally targeting civilian shipping and naval vessels.

Attacks on vessels, including commercial vessels, using unmanned aerial vehicles, small boats, and missiles, including the historic first use of anti-ship ballistic missiles against such vessels, are a direct threat to the freedom of navigation that serves as the bedrock of global trade in one the world’s most critical waterways.

We remain committed to the international rules-based order and are determined to hold malign actors accountable for unlawful seizures and attacks.