US Sailors Save Panicking Merchant Ship Crew From Houthi Attack In Red Sea

TMP - An Instant of Time /
TMP - An Instant of Time /

U.S. officials reported that sailors from the Dwight D. Eisenhower carrier strike group conducted a rescue operation for the crew of a merchant ship attacked by Iran-backed Houthi rebels in the Red Sea this past Saturday.

The attack occurred on the Liberian-flagged, Greek-owned bulk cargo ship M/V Tutor, which was hit by an unmanned Houthi vessel in the Red Sea on Wednesday. The strike caused significant flooding and damage to the ship’s engine room, a Navy release detailed.

Following the incident, the crew evacuated the Tutor and were subsequently rescued by the USS Philippine Sea and allied forces, according to a statement from U.S. Central Command. The Tutor is reported to still be in the Red Sea, gradually sinking as it continues to take on water.

A rescue helicopter from Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 74 airlifted 24 civilian mariners from the Tutor to the USS Philippine Sea. They were later transferred to the USS Eisenhower by helicopters from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 7 for medical evaluations before being flown to shore for further medical care.

Capt. Steven Liberty, commanding officer of the Philippine Sea, emphasized the commitment to maritime safety, stating, “Despite these senseless attacks on innocent mariners just doing their job, the Philippine Sea crew stand ready to help preserve safety of life at sea, always.”

In a separate incident, aircraft from the USS Philippine Sea also conducted a medical evacuation for a mariner injured during another Houthi attack on a different merchant vessel in the Gulf of Aden on Thursday.

As of Sunday, one crew member from the Tutor was still unaccounted for. The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations Center reported that the ship was still ablaze and sinking as of Saturday afternoon. The missing sailor is Filipino, and efforts are ongoing to locate him, as stated by Migrant Workers Secretary Hans Leo Cacdac to the Philippine News Agency. He noted that most of the Tutor’s 22 mariners are from the Philippines and expressed hope in finding the missing seafarer.

In response to these maritime threats, U.S. military forces launched a series of attacks targeting Houthi radar installations, which are instrumental in their ability to target ships. Central Command reported the destruction of seven radar sites in Houthi-controlled areas and the neutralization of two bomb-laden drone boats and another drone over the Red Sea.

The Houthis, who have controlled Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, since 2014, have not commented on these strikes or reported any military losses, a common occurrence since the U.S. began its airstrike campaign against the group.

Additionally, the cargo carrier M/V Verbena was attacked in two separate missile strikes by the Houthis in the Gulf of Aden off Yemen’s coast on Thursday. The crew had to abandon ship after failing to control the fires onboard. The Verbena, a Palauan-flagged, Ukrainian-owned, and Polish-operated ship, was en route from Malaysia to Italy carrying wood.

The ongoing conflict in the Gaza Strip, which escalated after a Hamas-led attack on Israel on October 7, has seen significant casualties and has been cited by the Houthis as a justification for their attacks, which predominantly affect third-country nationals and disrupt international trade routes.

These developments highlight the continued threat posed by the Houthis to international shipping and the broader implications for regional stability and humanitarian efforts in both Yemen and Gaza.