Houthis Extend Reach: MSC Orion Attacked Despite Red Sea Reroutes

In a recent incident in the Indian Ocean, the MSC-operated container ship MSC Orion, with a capacity of 15,000 TEUs, was targeted by a long-range drone launched by Houthi rebels on April 26th. This attack, confirmed by Houthi spokesperson Yahya Saree, occurred despite efforts by MSC to relocate all Israel-linked ships out of the Persian Gulf following the capture of the MSC Aries by Iranian forces.

The MSC Orion, which set sail from Portugal’s Sines port on April 6th, was en route to Oman’s Salalah port to unload its cargo on April 28th, omitting its scheduled stop in Abu Dhabi on April 30th. Currently serving MSC’s Himalaya Express service, its subsequent assignment is pending confirmation.

This assault marks one of the most remote attacks by the Houthis, as the MSC Orion was approximately 300 nautical miles from the Horn of Africa at the time. In response to the capture of the MSC Aries by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on April 13th, MSC began relocating the MSC Orion and nine other Israel-affiliated vessels, including those owned by Zodiac Maritime and Eastern Pacific Shipping, away from the Persian Gulf.

Negotiations between MSC and Tehran are underway to secure the release of the MSC Aries and its crew. Iranian authorities have indicated, under international pressure, that the crew may be released on humanitarian grounds.

Despite the threat of attacks prompting nearly 5 million TEUs to reroute from the Red Sea to the Cape of Good Hope, the Houthis have expressed intentions to expand their assaults to the Indian Ocean. Motivated by retaliation against Israel for the Gaza War, the Houthis are targeting ships associated with Israel or its ally, the United States. The MSC Orion, built in 2020, is part of a fleet owned by an affiliate of Zodiac Maritime, controlled by Israeli businessman Eyal Ofer.

Also Read: Houthis Seize India-bound Cargo Ship in Red Sea: What We Know So Far

The Combined Maritime Forces, a coalition of 43 nations in the region, reported that the MSC Orion sustained minor damage, and none of the crew were injured. Debris resembling a drone was discovered on board the vessel.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *