Chinese ship hit by Houthi missile barrage in Red Sea

The attack on the MV Huang Pu oil tanker caused no casualties but led the vessel to issue a distress call

US guided-missile destroyer USS Carney fires at Houthi missiles and drones in the Red Sea. AFP
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The crew of a Chinese commercial ship struggled for half an hour to extinguish a fire after being hit by a Houthi ballistic missile in the Red Sea, the US military said on Sunday.

The attack on the MV Huang Pu, a Chinese-owned oil tanker caused no casualties but led the ship to issue a distress call, the US Central Command said. Four anti-ship ballistic missiles were fired at the ship.

It comes despite claims that the Houthis would not target Chinese vessels in the vital waterway, which carries about 12 per cent of global trade.

The Houthis claim their blockade of the Red Sea, and subsequently the Suez Canal, is intended to pile economic pressure on backers of Israel to halt the war in Gaza.

China opposes Israel’s war in Gaza, and like much of the world, its supply chains depend on safe passages through the Red Sea and the vital Suez Canal.

“The Houthis attacked the MV Huang despite previously stating they would not attack Chinese vessels,” the US Central Command said.

The missile attack was followed by a wave of one way attack drones, five of which crashed after being “engaged” by the USS Carney, while a sixth flew “inland into Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen”, it added.

There were no more details as to why the drones “crashed” as opposed to being shot down, but the US often employs what are called “soft kill” methods against drones, using electronic signal jamming to disrupt their navigation.

This is because shooting the drones down with missiles can quickly use up extremely expensive interceptors such as the Standard Missile 2, which costs about two million dollars a shot, against drones that cost anywhere between $50,000 and $200,000, such as the Wa'eed-2, which is based on the Iranian Shahed 136.

Updated: March 28, 2024, 12:07 PM