Huthis Strike Cargo Ship As Tensions Continue To Rise

 February 14, 2024

Early on February 12, an unsettling event unfolded off Yemen's south coast.

Missile strikes by Iran-backed Huthi rebels targeted a commercial vessel, marking a concerning episode in the ongoing aggression in global maritime domains.

The US military reported that between 3:30 and 3:45 a.m. local time in Sanaa, attacks were launched from territories in Yemen controlled by the Huthi forces, targeting the critical Bab al-Mandeb Strait.

The ship targeted, the MV Star Iris, was registered under the Marshall Islands and is owned by a company based in Greece. It was going through the Red Sea, delivering corn from Brazil to Bandar Imam Khomeini in Iran. Despite being hit by two missiles in 20 minutes, the crew succeeded in keeping the ship on its path. This was possible due to the ship's durable build and the relatively minor damages it suffered, primarily on its right side.

Ambrey, a security firm, released a statement acknowledging the role of a private armed security team on board the MV Star Iris during the assault. This team's commitment to protecting the ship and its crew underscores the ongoing efforts to ensure maritime safety amid such dangers.

Impact on global maritime trade

The audacity of these attacks off Yemen's coast by the Huthi rebels does not merely signify a localized threat but underscores a broader pattern of hostility affecting international maritime trade. The Huthis' declared allegiance with the "axis of resistance," and the cause of the Palestinians in Gaza has translated into targeted aggression towards shipping in the Red Sea since November.

This escalating maritime insecurity has compelled several shipping firms to consider alternate routes, including the longer and costlier passage around southern Africa, which inevitably disrupts global trade dynamics.

The response from international military forces to this uptick in maritime threats is a testament to the global community's commitment to preserving the safety of shipping lanes. Nevertheless, the continuity of such attacks raises significant concerns about the long-term effects on maritime commerce and the overarching stability in the region.

The onslaught against the MV Star Iris, a vessel listed by the ship's owner on the NASDAQ, exemplifies the intricate overlap of global finance, security, and geopolitical tensions. This incident, amid Israel's ongoing conflict with Gaza that began on October 7, has seen considerable casualties and the seizure of hostages by Palestinian militants, adding layers of complexity to an already volatile regional scenario.

Yahya Saree, a spokesman for the Huthis, provided a stark reminder of the group's resolve, stating:

The naval forces of the Yemeni Armed Forces targeted the American ship Star Iris in the Red Sea with several suitable naval missiles, and the strikes were accurate and direct. The Huthis will not hesitate to carry out more operations in retaliation to the Zionist crimes against our brothers in the Gaza Strip, as well as in response to the ongoing American-British aggression against our dear country.

A reminder of the broader conflicts at sea

The repercussions of such attacks extend beyond the immediate damage or the thwarted journeys of affected vessels. They serve as a grim reminder of the persistent threats facing those who traverse international waters, whether for trade, humanitarian aid, or any other noble cause. The bravery and resilience of ship crews and their onboard security teams in facing these dangers cannot be overstated.

It's crucial to acknowledge the broader context of these maritime aggressions. They are entangled with ongoing conflicts and geopolitical rivalries on the global stage, reflecting deep-seated issues that require diplomatic, if not outright military, responses.

This incident off Yemen's coast starkly illustrates the fragile state of international maritime security. It highlights the imperative need for a concerted international effort to safeguard these vital trade routes against threats that disrupt global commerce and pose significant risks to those on the frontline of these confrontations.


The missile attack on the MV Star Iris off Yemen's south coast by Iran-backed Huthi rebels constitutes part of a disturbing trend of aggression in the Red Sea. This episode, resulting in minor damage to the cargo vessel but no crew injuries, underscores the ongoing challenges faced by international maritime trade amidst geopolitical conflicts.

The resilience of the MV Star Iris, aided by its private security team, signifies the determination of the global shipping community to persevere despite such adversities. However, the broader implications of these attacks on global commerce and security remain a concern for all stakeholders in maintaining peace and stability in these crucial maritime corridors.

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