Vessel approached by Houthi drone boat swarm

Written by Nick Blenkey
Where drone boat swarm was reported

Image: UKMTO

Yesterday, UKMTO reported an incident, 13 nautical miles southwest of Al Mukh, Yemen, in which the master of a vessel reported being approached by 12 small boats, consisting of a mix of fast boats and smaller kayak type vessels, some of which were observed to have been uncrewed. The closest approach of the small boats to the vessel was 1.2 nautical miles. They stayed in the vicinity for about one hour and then departed. The fact that several of the vessels were uncrewed (presumably Houthi) drone boats is worrisome.

The threat posed by Houthi drone boats was underscored by the June 12 attack on the M/V Tutor That vessel was first struck in the stern by a Houthi drone boat then subsequently by what UKMTO described as an “unknown aerial vessel.” Its sinking was later confirmed by UKMTO and one crewmember is presumed dead.

Some of the drone boats reported to UKMTO may have later been sunk. Yesterday, CENTCOM reported:

“In the past 24 hours U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM) forces conducted a self-defense engagement, destroying three Iranian-backed Houthi uncrewed surface vessels (USVs) in the Red Sea.

“It was determined the USVs presented an imminent threat to U.S. and coalition forces, and merchant vessels in the region. These actions were taken to protect freedom of navigation and make international waters safer and more secure.

“This continued malign and reckless behavior by the Iranian-backed Houthis threatens regional stability and endangers the lives of mariners across the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.”

Ambrey published an analysis of the threat posed by Houthi drone boats following the Tutor attack.

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