Yemen’s Houthi Rebels Target Norwegian Tanker Near Red Sea Chokepoint

A Norwegian-flagged tanker was struck by an anti-ship cruise missile fired by Yemen’s Houthi rebels in the Red Sea near the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, a crucial maritime chokepoint where nearly 10% of all traded crude passes through. The rebels claimed they targeted the tanker because it was headed to an Israeli terminal, while the ship’s owner stated it was actually bound for the Suez Canal and Italy. The attack has raised concerns about the safety of vessels in the region and the potential for disruptions to global energy markets.

Key Points

1. Yemen’s Houthi rebels targeted a Norwegian-flagged tanker in the Red Sea near the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, an important maritime chokepoint through which almost 10% of global crude oil trade passes.

2. The Houthi military spokesperson claimed the tanker was attacked because it was heading to an Israeli terminal and the crew ignored warnings. However, the owner of the tanker stated that it was bound for the Suez Canal and then Italy with a cargo of vegetable oil and biofuels.

3. The US navy destroyer, USS Mason, responded to the distress call from the attacked tanker and is currently providing assistance. There have been discussions among the US and Gulf allies regarding potential military action against the Houthi rebels due to their series of attacks on commercial vessels in the Red Sea.

Anti-Ship Cruise Missile Strikes Norwegian Tanker in Red Sea

An anti-ship cruise missile fired by Yemen’s Houthi rebels hit a Norwegian-flagged tanker in the Red Sea near the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, a crucial maritime chokepoint responsible for nearly 10% of all crude traded at sea. The tanker, named “Strinda,” was targeted for allegedly heading to an Israeli terminal and ignoring warnings, according to Houthi military spokesperson Yehia Sarea. However, Strinda’s owner, Norway’s Mowinckel Chemical Tankers, clarified that the vessel was bound for the Suez Canal and then Italy, carrying a cargo of vegetable oil and biofuels.

The attack occurred approximately 60 nautical miles north of the Bab el-Mandeb Strait at 2100 GMT, as confirmed by a US official. Fortunately, the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Mason received a distress call from Strinda and quickly rendered assistance. CENTCOM, the US military’s Central Command, issued a statement assuring that no US ships were present during the attack, and the tanker was now able to move under its own power.

The Houthi rebels, backed by Iran, have been responsible for a series of attacks on commercial vessels in the Red Sea, particularly targeting those bound for or coming from Israel. This has prompted discussions between the US and Gulf allies regarding potential military action against the group. Bloomberg reported that the latest spate of attacks has raised concerns and threatens one of the world’s riskiest maritime routes.

Impact on Energy Markets

After Central Command released information about the incident, Brent crude futures briefly spiked above $76 a barrel. However, the market quickly gave up these gains, and prices returned to the $75 range in early Tuesday trading. The global crude markets continue to grapple with fears of oversupply, and the situation in the Red Sea only adds to the uncertainty.

The Bab el-Mandeb Strait is a critical transportation route for large quantities of energy, commodities, and manufactured goods destined for Egypt’s Suez Canal. With the escalation of attacks on commercial vessels, investors are now concerned about the safety and viability of this route. There is a possibility that ships may be forced to divert and sail thousands of additional miles around Africa, adding significant costs and delays to transportation.

Investment Opportunities and Recommendations

Given the heightened risks in the Red Sea and the potential disruptions to the maritime supply chain, investors should consider several factors when assessing their portfolios. Here are some key investment ideas:

  1. Energy Stocks: Companies involved in oil production, refinement, and distribution may experience increased volatility as events in the Red Sea unfold. Investors should closely monitor these stocks and consider adjusting their positions accordingly.
  2. Maritime Security Technology: The rising threat of attacks on commercial vessels calls for enhanced security measures. Companies specializing in maritime security technology could benefit from increased demand for their services.
  3. Infrastructure and Logistics: With the potential for ships to divert from the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, there may be opportunities in companies involved in alternative transportation routes, such as those focused on Africa’s east coast or the development of new canal systems.

It is important for investors to remain vigilant and stay informed about the evolving situation in the Red Sea. By analyzing the potential risks and exploring suitable investment ideas, investors can position themselves to make informed decisions and adapt their portfolios to changing market conditions.

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