UKMTO flags report of vessel ordered to alter course by ‘Yemeni navy’

CAIRO (Reuters) – The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) agency has received a report of an entity declaring itself to be the Yemeni navy ordering a vessel to alter course to an unspecified Yemeni port, it said in an X post early on Tuesday.

Monitoring service on X said it suspected the vessel was a “northbound cargo-laden oil tanker”.

Ships of both Yemen’s internationally recognised government and warring Houthi movement self-identify as Yemeni navy.

UKMTO earlier on Tuesday said it received a report of a fire on board a vessel in the vicinity of the Bab al-Mandab Strait west of port Mokha in Yemen. The crew was reported safe, it said in a post on X.

The Bab al-Mandab Strait is a sea lane through which much of the world’s oil is shipped.

It was unclear whether the two incidents were related.

The Houthi movement on Saturday said it would target all ships heading north to Israel, regardless of nationality, and warned all international shipping companies against dealing with Israeli ports.

The Houthis have attacked and seized several Israeli-linked ships in the Red Sea and Bab al-Mandab Strait and fired ballistic missiles and armed drones at Israel.

The Houthis are one of several groups in the Iran-aligned “Axis of Resistance” which have been hitting Israeli and U.S. targets since Oct. 7 when Hamas militants attacked Israel, sparking Israeli retaliation against Hamas in Gaza.

(Reporting by Enas Alashray and Yomna Ehab; Editing by Tom Hogue and Christopher Cushing)