Attack Leaves 21,000 Tons of Fertilizer in Red Sea

( – Yemeni Houthis regularly harassing vessels transiting the Red Sea and Suez Canal are responsible for the sinking of the Rubymar, a cargo ship containing roughly 21,000 tons of fertilizer. The vessel was struck by a Houthi attack on February 18, and was damaged resulting in a slow leak. That leak effectively sank the vessel on March 2, though it remains floating somewhat just beneath the surface as it continues to slowly take on water.

U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM) posted an update sharing a picture of the vessel on its side. The military said that the ship contained 21,000 tons of “ammonium phosphate sulfate fertilizer” which is posing a significant environmental risk to the waterway. They added that the ship is also a potential subsurface obstruction that could cause additional damage to more ships, due to the frequent use of the passage for commercial traffic.

The Houthi attack previously caused an 18-mile oil slick to drip out from the vessel. The crew abandoned the ship when they realized the damage was too severe to repair. The remaining fertilizer is presenting a dangerous environmental risk to coral reefs in the area.

The Rubymar is the first vessel to be sunk by the Houthis. Their early attempts saw missiles launched in the direction of cargo ships, or causing minor damage, but none of them were stopped by the attacks. U.S. and U.K. authorities have engaged in airstrikes targeting alleged Houthi weapons depots and other strongholds, but the attacks haven’t stopped the Houthis.

Houthi spokesman Hussein El-Ezzi posted comments to X suggesting that they will continue to attack vessels in the waterway. The Houthis have previously suggested that their efforts were aimed at disrupting trade with Israel as it continues its war with Hamas in Gaza.

Hamas and Israeli authorities have repeatedly stated they aren’t close to reaching a ceasefire agreement to end the conflict, as Israel is intent on completely eradicating Hamas.

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