Norwegian Hull Club has followed the recent developments in Yemen closely and we have asked our trusted intelligence provider Risk Intelligence (www.riskintelligence.eu) for an update on the situation:
The below provides a security update for the Red Sea area offshore Yemen, focusing on recent developments including the attack on the Saudi frigate AL MADINAH and a warning that sea mines might have been deployed at the entrance of Mocha (Mokha) port in Yemen. It also includes a summary of the conditions in major ports in Yemen.
Maritime dimension of conflict
The conflict in Yemen has been underway for 20 months and has mostly been confined to land-based operations. During this time, the Saudi-led coalition supporting the allies of president Hadi has not made significant gains against former president Saleh and his Houthi supporters. In the last month, military operations by the coalition have intensified in the Bab el Mandeb area in southern Yemen, which has raised the stakes in the conflict.
The Houthis previously used guided missile to target vessels from the Saudi-led coalition. This has been largely ineffective, with the exception of a missile that hit an Emirati vessel, HSV-2 SWIFT, in the Bab el Mandeb Strait in September 2016. The Houthis were also accused of firing a series of missiles at US naval vessels patrolling international waters off the western Yemen coast in early-October, leading the American warships to launch retaliatory strikes.
There has been an escalation in the use of offshore Yemen as an area of operations. Although all the details have yet to be confirmed, the Iranian-flagged cargo vessel JOUYA 8 was likely hit by a Saudi air attack in early December. There has been some speculation, although nothing has been confirmed, that the vessel was targeted due to its flag and location (off Mocha) and suspicion that it was involved in arms trafficking to Houthi insurgents.
There was also an apparent attack on the cargo vessel SULTAN 2 (a landing craft type vessel) north of Bab el Mandeb on 3 January 2017. At this time it seems likely that Houthi insurgents attacked the vessel as it may have been involved in the supply of coalition forces as in the case of the SWIFT.