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Houthis Strike U.S. Merchant Vessel After Targeting Warship

Hours after targeting a U.S. warship with a cruise missile in the Red Sea, Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthis fired a missile and struck a U.S.-owned merchant vessel in the Gulf of Aden, giving further momentum to the escalation of this conflict. 

Early on Monday, the Houthis fired a missile at the Marshall Islands-flagged bulk carrier, the Eagle Gibraltar, hitting the port side of the vessel, according to the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations, as reported by the Associated Press. 

The vessel has reported no casualties in the incident. 

The bulk carrier is owned by Connecticut-based Eagle Bulk, and AP satellite tracking analysis showed the vessel heading for the Suez Canal before it turned around after being attacked. 

"All seafarers onboard the vessel are confirmed to be uninjured," Eagle Bulk said in a statement. "The vessel is carrying a cargo of steel products. Eagle Bulk management is in close contact with all relevant authorities concerning this matter."

Following the attack, the U.S. Maritime Administration warned U.S.-flagged vessels from sailing near Yemen. 

The attack follows on the heels of another attack late on Sunday in which the Houthis targeted the USS Laboon warship

On Friday, the U.S. began targeting Houthi positions in Yemen with dozens of targeted cruise missile attacks launched from fighter jets, warships and submarines. 

Last week, ongoing missile strikes by the Houthis on merchant vessels pushed Brent crude oil prices to $80 briefly as operators increasingly diverted commodities away from the Red Sea and the Suez Canal. On Monday, Qatar joined the ranks of those avoiding the Red Sea, announcing it would no longer send its LNG carriers on this route through the Bab el-Mandeb Strait off the coast of Yemen. According to Bloomberg, since Friday, at least five LNG carriers scheduled to traverse the Strait have been halted. 

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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