Houthi sea drone badly damages ship in Red Sea; U.S. destroys missile launchers

U.S. military forces launched attacks on Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen destroying three anti-ship cruise missile launchers and a drone over the Red Sea after the rebel group fired anti-ship missiles and a Greek-owned bulk carrier was badly damaged by a sea drone. File photo by EPA-EFE/Houthi Media Center

June 13 (UPI) -- A Greek-owned bulk carrier flooded after being badly damaged in a ramming by an unmanned surface vessel launched by the Houthis rebels in Yemen, British and American authorities said.

The master of the 44,000-ton M/V Tutor reported the vessel was "taking on water and not under the control of the crew" after being hit in the stern by a "16-23 foot-long craft" in Wednesday's attack in the Red Sea, about 66 miles southwest of the port of Hudaydah, the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations center said in a bulletin.

"Military authorities are assisting. Vessels are advised to transit with caution and report any suspicious activity," said the Royal Navy-run maritime coordination center.

The incident came as U.S. military forces in the region launched attacks on Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen destroying three anti-ship cruise missile launchers, U.S. Central Command said in a post on X.

One uncrewed aerial system launched from a Houthi-controlled area of Yemen over the Red Sea was also destroyed.

CENTCOM strongly condemned the attack on the Tutor along with the firing into the Red Sea of two anti-ship ballistic missiles by Houthis in Yemen that failed to hit their targets.

"The impact of the USV caused severe flooding and damage to the engine room," CENTCOm said.

"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,"

In a statement claiming responsibility, a Houthi military spokesman claimed the attack had left the Tutor "seriously damaged, vulnerable to sinking".

He added that it had been targeted with the sea drone because the owners had breached the group's "ban on entry to the ports of occupied Palestine."

The Houthis have been menacing commercial shipping transiting the key Red Sea route linking the West with the Middle East, the sub-Continent and Asia, launching drones and missiles at vessels in what it claims is support for the cause of the Palestinians in the conflict in Gaza.

Two weeks ago, U.S. and British forces carried out their first joint "defensive" strikes since February, with warplanes hitting Houthi targets in Yemen and the Red Sea, destroying eight drones

CENTCOM said the attacks were mounted because the unmanned aerial vehicles and the other targets in Houthi-controlled areas and above the Red Sea "presented a threat to U.S. and coalition forces in the region."