Lost your password?
Don't have an account? Sign Up

Second Israeli-owned ship attacked by Iran-backed forces as shadow war intensifies

Share This News Story:

SINGAPORE : A second Israeli-owned ship is reported to have come under military attack from suspected Iranian-backed forces in the last week.

The container ship CMA CGM Symi (built 2022) was hit by a suspected Iranian-made kamikaze drone in the Indian Ocean on Friday according to the AP news agency, citing a US defence official.

The Shahed-136 drone exploded when it hit the ship causing damage but no injuries to the crew, the report said.

French line CMA CGM charters the Malta-flagged 15,294-teu CMA CGM Symi from Singapore-based Eastern Pacific Shipping, which is ultimately owned by Israeli shipowner and investor Idan Ofer.

It marks an upsurge in the shadow war being fought by Iran against Israeli interests over the past two years which has seen at least four ships attacked and two people killed.

This week’s attacks come amid tension in the Middle East as Israel battles the Hamas militant group in Gaza. Fighting has been halted for four days to allow a swap of hostages held by Hamas for Palestinians imprisoned in Israel and the supply of humanitarian aid.

CMA CGM said that as it was a chartered vessel it was passing requests for comment to its owner Eastern Pacific.

“Eastern Pacific Shipping is aware of claims that a container ship under the company’s management was targeted in a possible security incident overnight on Friday, 24 November, following departure from the UAE,” the company’s crisis team said on Saturday morning.

“The vessel in question is currently sailing as planned. All crew are safe and well. “We continue to monitor the situation closely,” the US defence official told AP.

The official did not elaborate on what intelligence had been acquired to assess that Iran was behind the attack, although authorities suspect Tehran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard carried out the assault, AP said.

Last weekend, the car carrier Galaxy Leader was hijacked after an audacious helicopter raid by Iran-backed Houthi rebels. The ship is now at anchor off the Yemeni port of Hodeida. Its 25 crew are unharmed but are effectively held hostage.

The Galaxy Leader is operated by Japan’s NYK Line and ultimately owned by Israel’s Abraham ‘Rami’ Unger through his company Ray Car Carriers.

The Houthis are backed by Iran’s Shia Muslim government against Yemen’s internationally recognised government which is supported by Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia.

The attacks put ships ultimately owned by Israelis under “significant risk”, maritime security group Diaplous said on Saturday morning.

“All Israeli-affiliated merchant vessels, crossing the Indian Ocean are currently running a significant risk of maritime terrorism. Masters and the crew should remain extremely vigilant and notify naval warships in case of suspicious activity in the area,” Diaplous advised.

The CMA CGM Symi departed the Jebel Ali port in Dubai on Tuesday according to ship tracking data, although its AIS tracker appears to have been switched off since then. Ships are permitted to deactivate their AIS for their security in high-risk regions.

According to CMA CGM’s online voyage log the vessel is bound for the Westport Terminal at Port Klang in Malaysia and is due on December 1.

The ship has protection and indemnity cover with North Standard P&I and is financed by China’s Bank of Communications Financial Leasing.

Almost exactly a year ago, an Iranian drone attack blew a hole in the hull of the 50,000-dwt product tanker Pacific Zircon (built 2013). No crew were injured in the attack on the Eastern Pacific Shipping vessel.

In 2021, a product tanker ultimately owned by Idan Ofer’s brother Eyal was hit by a drone that killed the ship’s captain and a UK security guard.

In a separate incident, the British military agency that provides security alerts to shipping said it had “been made aware of an entity declaring itself to be Yemeni authorities ordering a vessel to alter course”.

The UK Maritime Trade Operations advisory note added: “Vessels in the vicinity are advised to exercise caution and report any suspicious activity to UKMTO.”

Share This News Story: