Houthis Claim Attack on Maersk Container Ship Near Djibouti

A Maersk container ship in port
Updated Published

On April 24, the UK Maritime Trade Organisation was alerted to an explosion in the waters 72 nautical miles southeast of Djibouti's port. This incident followed a renewed threat from the Houthis broadcasted on their official channel.

Later that day, a Houthi spokesperson, through the same channel, claimed responsibility for attacks on two vessels: the Maersk Yorktown, a U.S.-flagged container ship weighing 28,900 deadweight tons (dwt) operated by Maersk Line, and the MSC Veracruz, a vessel with a 68,000 dwt capacity. 

The Houthis labeled the MSC Veracruz as an 'Israeli ship' and implicated a U.S. warship in the incident. The Maersk Yorktown is reportedly under contract with the U.S. military.

In response, the U.S. Central Command reported thwarting an anti-ship ballistic missile launched from a Houthi-controlled area in Yemen across the Gulf of Aden, apparently targeting the Maersk Yorktown, which had a crew of 18 Americans and 4 Greeks.

Furthermore, the U.S. Central Command confirmed it had destroyed four unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) over Houthi-held territory in Yemen. There was no verification of any attacks on the vessels or the U.S. warship as alleged by the Houthis.

Earlier in the month, on April 13, the Houthis had launched another anti-ship ballistic missile from the Gulf of Aden. Such missile attacks were more frequent at the beginning of April but decreased in frequency towards the end of the month. Since November 2023, Houthis have targeted vessels as part of their response to the ongoing conflict in Gaza.