OCTOBER 5, 2016 — An Incat wavepiercing catamaran once leased by the U.S. Navy, HSV Swift, has been severely damaged after coming under missile fire by Yemeni rebels this past Saturday.
Fox News reported Monday that the U.S. Navy dispatched three warships near the southern coast of Yemen after four rockets hit and nearly sank the ship.
Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen claimed responsibility for the attack. Iran supplied the Houthis with the "shoulder-fired rockets" that nearly destroyed the UAE ship, Fox News cited two U.S. officials as saying.
Although a YouTube video purports to show the sinking of the vessel, photographs posted on other social media appear to show the catamaran as still afloat, though extensively damaged.
The UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation says that the ship was targeted by the Houthi and Saleh militias off the coast of Mocha, Yemen, when carrying assistance, wounded Yemenis and passengers.
The ministry said that the ship, which is unarmed and has no military protection, was passing through the Bab al Mandab Strait like any other civilian and commercial ship. It has been conducting routine trips to Aden for one year and all its crew members are civilians.
The statement said that the civilian ship is owned by the UAE National Marine Dredging Company and does not have any military capacity, a fact that the ministry says "is confirmed by the vessel's inability to counter the attack it came under during an international sea voyage governed by the norms and charters that ensure the freedom of navigation in international waters."
The ministry statement said that the crew of the ship comprises 24 civilians of six nationalities: 10 Indians, seven Ukrainians, four Egyptians, and three from Jordan, the Philippines and Lithuania.
"Those who were injured in the heinous attack are receiving medical treatment in the UAE," said the statement. It did not reveal how many crew members were injured, nor whether there were any fatalities.
''In more than a year of operating routine journeys to Aden, the civilian ship has carried thousands of tonnes of humanitarian assistance and more than 1,000 wounded people, along with their companions, in addition to large equipment for the electricity, water and healthcare sectors which had significantly eased the suffering of the residents of Aden through the restoration of the infrastructure in these vital sectors,'' the statement said.
The ministry stressed that the Houthi-Saleh militias know very well that the civilian ship was dedicated for humanitarian missions and that it had not conducted any military missions in Yemen, which affirms that these militias ignore all international norms and charters that were agreed upon for wars and international conflicts.
The statement said: "While the Special Envoy of the United Nations Secretary-General for Yemen is working to launch a new round of negotiations and the reiteration of the Arab Coalition that a peaceful settlement is its best choice, the Houthi-Saleh militias are working to undermine peace efforts and insist on disregarding all efforts being exerted. This affirms that peace is not a choice for the Houthis and Saleh and that the course of military conflict is the agenda that these militias believe in."
In light of this dangerous escalation, the ministry views with appreciation all international reactions and statements of condemnation against this threat. These statements warned the rebels not to pursue their attempts to undermine international peace efforts.
The ministry urges the international community to condemn these dangerous practices which violate international laws and charters, especially the coup militias are pursuing a policy of blocking aid, siege and starving the Yemeni people in many cities as a military tool to break the will of the people of Yemen, without taking into consideration the suffering that Yemenis, children and women in particular, are going through.
YouTube video wrongly describes unarmed civilian- manned vessel as a UAE Navy ship. Says it was sunk, when it wasn't