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In a still developing situation aboard the Barbados-flagged, Greek-managed bulker, reports are that at least two crewmembers are dead and others are believed missing and badly burned after the vessel, the True Confidence, was struck by a Houthi missile. Coalition forces are reported to be supporting a search and rescue mission as the vessel was abandoned.

The British Embassy posted a message saying, “At least two innocent sailors died. This was the sad and predictable result of the Houthis' reckless missile launches on international shipping. They must stop. Our deepest condolences are with the families of those who died and those who were injured.”

The 50,500 dwt bulker was traveling from China with a stop in Singapore bound for Jeddah, Saudi Arabia when it was attacked on Wednesday morning approximately 50 nautical miles southwest of Aden, Yemen. There were reports of a loud explosion with unconfirmed statements that the vessel was fully engulfed in a fire and drifting after the crew took to the lifeboats.

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The vessel’s manager is reporting that there are 20 crewmembers, including Indians, Vietnamese, and Philippine nationals as well as three security guards on the ship. They are saying contact was lost with the crew while both Reuters and Associated Press are quoting unnamed U.S. officials saying causalities are likely. At least three crewmembers are believed missing while four were reported to have suffered severe burns. While other crews have suffered minor injuries, these would be the first casualties and severe injuries since the attacks began in November 2023.

In a statement taking credit for the attack, a Houthi spokesperson said, “The targeting operation came after the ship's crew rejected warning messages from the Yemeni naval forces.” Yahya Saree wrote on X that ships “must respond to calls from the Yemeni naval forces, and all crews of the targeted ships must quickly leave after the first attack.”

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Organizations confirmed it had reports that the True Confidence was being hailed for at least 30 minutes by the so-called “Yemeni navy.” 

The Houthis are claiming the vessel was owned by U.S. interest, identifying Oaktree Capital Management, but the vessel’s managers are refuting any connections to the U.S.

Built in 2011, the Equasis database shows the ship’s previous owner from 2021 until February 2024 was registered as OCM Maritime, but now it is reported owned by True Confidence Shipping.

Many bulkers have been reported to be joining the growing number of vessels diverted away from the Red Sea region. The owners are saying this vessel was transporting steel products and trucks to Saudi Arabia.

IMO Secretary-General Arsenio Dominguez issued a statement later in the day expressing the condolences of the IMO. "Innocent seafarers should never become collateral victims," he said. "I once again call for collective action to fortify the safety of those who serve at sea. We all need to do more to protect seafarers."

U.S. Central Command reported several hours earlier that the USS Carney identified one anti-ship ballistic missile and three one-way attack unmanned aerial systems launched by the Houthi toward the destroyer. The U.S. forces downed the attacks with no injuries or damage to the ship. Later in the day, CENTCOM forces also destroyed three anti-ship missiles and three unmanned surface vessels (USV).