Ship abandoned in Red Sea faces unknown fate – sources

Illustrative: An Egyptian watches the British destroyer HMS Diamond pass through the Suez Canal as it sails from the Red Sea toward the Mediterranean, on December 2, 2012. (AFP)
Illustrative: An Egyptian watches the British destroyer HMS Diamond pass through the Suez Canal as it sails from the Red Sea toward the Mediterranean, on December 2, 2012. (AFP)

A cargo ship abandoned four days ago in the Gulf of Aden after it was hit by missiles fired by Yemen’s Houthis is still floating despite taking in water, and could be towed to nearby Djibouti, industry sources say.

Shipping risks have escalated due to repeated drone and missile strikes in the Red Sea and Bab el-Mandeb Strait by the Iran-aligned Houthis since November. US and British forces have responded with several strikes on Houthi facilities but have so far failed to halt the attacks.

The crew of the Belize-flagged Rubymar abandoned the vessel after it was hit on Sunday, and were rescued by another commercial ship.

The vessel was taking in water and its operators were exploring options, the vessel’s maritime security company LSS-SAPU told Reuters on Monday. The vessel’s UK registered company and Lebanese-based ship manager could not be located for further comment.

A maritime advisory warned ships in the area to avoid the abandoned vessel.

A US defense official said on Tuesday that the vessel had not sunk.

Two shipping and insurance sources said towing the vessel to Djibouti appeared to be the best course of action.

“Djibouti is the only immediate option where some repairs or recovery would be feasible,” one of the sources says. “It is too risky for a ship in that condition to be towed too far or in more open waters.”

The vessel last reported its position over two days ago, and was headed to the Bulgarian port of Varna, according to data from ship tracking and maritime analytics provider MarineTraffic.

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