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Ship manager calls on Houthis to free ‘Galaxy Leader’ crew

June 18, 2024 at 9:19 pm

A screen grab captured from a video shows that cargo ship “Galaxy Leader”, co-owned by an Israeli company, being hijacked by Iran-backed Houthis from Yemen in the Red Sea on November 20, 2023 [Houthis Media Center – Anadolu Agency]

Managers of the “Galaxy Leader” cargo ship on Tuesday renewed calls for the release of the vessel’s 25 crew being held by Yemen’s Houthis for seven months, Reuters reports.

The Houthis used helicopters to attack the Bahamas-flagged ship on 19 November. They captured the Bulgarian ship master and chief officer, along with 17 Filipinos and other sailors from Ukraine, Mexico and Romania, the ship managers said.

“There is nothing to be gained by the Houthis in keeping the 25 crew members,” said the ship managers, who requested that they be released to their families without further delay.

The Houthis have used drones and missiles to assault ships in the Red Sea, the Bab Al-Mandeb Strait and the Gulf of Aden since November, saying they are acting in solidarity with Palestinians in the Gaza war.

READ: UK, US air strikes on Yemen are not deterring Houthi attacks on Red Sea vessels, report finds

Since then, they have sunk one ship, seized another vessel and killed three seafarers in separate attacks.

The International Chamber of Shipping, which represents ship owners, has called the Houthi attacks “unacceptable acts of aggression which threaten the lives of innocent seafarers and the safety of merchant shipping”.

Last week, Houthis notched up direct strikes on two ships – the Liberan-flagged “Tutor” coal carrier and Palau-flagged “Verbena”, which was loaded with wood construction material.

Those assaults prompted security experts to note a significant increase in the effectiveness of the group’s drone and missile strikes.

Rescuers evacuated crews from the damaged ships due to safety risks. One sailor from the “Tutor” remains missing. Both ships are now adrift and vulnerable to further attack or sinking.

US and British forces on Monday conducted airstrikes targeting Yemen’s Hudaydah International Airport and Kamaran Island near the port of Salif off the Red Sea.

READ: Seized ‘Galaxy Leader’ ship in Yemen’s Hudaydah port area – owner