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A second ship linked to Israel was seized in the Gulf of Aden this weekend and then let go after a U.S. Navy warship responded to distress calls.
Per media reports, the Liberian-flagged vessel was seized off the coast of Yemen, sent a distress signal and the USS Mason responded, calling on allied vessels in the area to help, per a Reuters report citing a statement by the Pentagon.
The AP reported that the company that manages the tanker is Zodiac Maritime, which is the property of Zodiac Group, owned by Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer.
“We would like to thank the coalition forces who responded quickly, protecting assets in the area and upholding international maritime law,” Zodiac Maritime said in a statement following the release of the vessel, which carried phosphoric acid.
This is the third vessel attack in the area since the start of the war between Hamas and Israel in early October. The AP reported that the former government of Yemen, which the Houthis overthrew in 2014 had blamed the seizure on them, but U.S. officials have not named the attackers, Reuters noted in its report.
Earlier this month, the Houthis seized a cargo ship in the Red Sea and said it was an Israeli vessel and that "We are treating the ship's crew in accordance with Islamic principles and values." The vessel was directed to the port of Hodeidah in Yemen and remains there despite calls for its release.
Following this first seizure, two other vessels diverted their course away from the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea, Reuters reported, citing a British maritime security firm, which said the diversion would add to the length of these vessels’ journey.
Last week, another vessel linked to Eyal Ofer’s brother, Idan, was targeted in a drone attack that was blamed on Iran by a U.S. defense official, the AP reported on Saturday.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com