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MSC container ship ‘MSC United VIII’ attacked in Red Sea by Houthis

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GENEVA : The world largest Shipping Line Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) has confirmed that one of its container ships was attacked on Tuesday while transiting the southern Red Sea.

A statement from the group confirmed earlier claims made by Yemen’s Houthi rebels that they had attacked 8,204 TEUs MSC United VIII (built 2006) at approximately 12:25 UTC.

MSC said the ship notified a nearby coalition task force warship of the attack and engaged in ‘evasive manoeuvres’.

The Liberia-flagged ship was en route from King Abdullah Port, Saudi Arabia to Karachi, Pakistan.

“Currently, all crew are safe with no reported injuries and a thorough assessment of the vessel is being conducted”, the statement said, adding that the company’s priority “remains protecting the lives and safety of our seafarers, and until their safety can be ensured, MSC will continue to reroute vessels booked for Suez transit via the Cape of Good Hope”.

In a statement, Houthi spokesperson Yahya Saree said: “The naval forces of the Yemeni Armed Forces carried out a targeting operation against the commercial ship, ‘MSC United’ with appropriate naval missiles.”

“The targeting operation of the ship came after the crew refused, for the third time, calls from the naval forces, as well as repeated fiery warning messages”, the Houthi statement added.

In an earlier attack on Tuesday 80 nautical miles from Hodeidah, Yemen, an unmanned aerial vehicle approached a commercial vessel and a warship close by, Ambrey Analytics said. The warship fired two missiles in response. The first missed but the second successfully targeted the UAV, Ambrey said.

MSC is one of several big liners that said earlier this month they would suspend transiting the region.

Another, Danish shipping giant AP Moller-Maersk, said it is preparing vessels for Suez Canal transits now that a multinational naval task force is operational in the Red Sea.

However, AP Moller- Maersk did not commit to a timeframe for reversing its decision to avoid the waterway and divert vessels on longer routes.

Maersk said it received confirmation on Sunday that US-led Operation Prosperity Guardian was up and running.

Several countries that had originally committed to the task force have since pulled out, however. France, Italy, Spain, Norway and Denmark said they would only contribute warships to a force commanded by NATO.

On Saturday, the 21,300-dwt chemical tanker Chem Pluto (built 2012) was hit by a “one-way attack drone fired from Iran” while it was 200 nautical miles (370 km) off the Indian coast, according to the US Defense Department.

Iran’s foreign ministry on Monday dismissed the US claim about the drone departing from Iranian soil.

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