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Friday, February 23, 2024

Security Restored for Tankers in the Middle East Following U.S. Navy Intervention, According to Officials

A distress call from a commercial tanker in the Gulf of Aden, seized by armed individuals, prompted a response from a U.S. Navy warship, the USS Mason. The vessel, identified as the Central Park, was carrying phosphoric acid. The USS Mason, with assistance from allied ships, demanded the release of the commercial ship. Five armed individuals attempted to escape on a fast boat but were pursued and eventually surrendered. Two ballistic missiles were fired from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen toward the USS Mason and Central Park, but they landed about 10 nautical miles away without causing damage or injuries.

This incident is part of a series of attacks in Middle Eastern waters following the outbreak of a conflict between Israel and Hamas on Oct. 7. A week earlier, Yemen Houthis, allies of Iran, seized an Israeli-linked cargo ship in the southern Red Sea and threatened more attacks on Israeli vessels.

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The Central Park, a small chemical tanker managed by Zodiac Maritime Ltd, was involved in a suspected piracy incident while crossing international waters off the coast of Somalia. The vessel’s crew consists of individuals from various nationalities. There is no immediate comment from Houthi officials.

The UK Maritime Trade Operations Agency (UKMTO) is aware of a possible attack in southwest Aden and advises caution for other vessels. The U.S. has previously attributed unclaimed attacks in the region to Iran, which Tehran denies. In a separate incident, a suspected Iranian drone hit a container ship managed by an Israeli-controlled company in the Indian Ocean, causing minor damage.

In the context of the Israel-Hamas conflict, Hamas fighters entered Israel on Oct. 7, resulting in casualties on both sides. Israel responded with airstrikes on Gaza, causing significant casualties, including a large number of children, according to Palestinian health authorities. Thirteen Israelis and four Thai nationals were released by Hamas as part of a hostage situation following a delay related to aid delivery into Gaza.

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