Off Yemen's coast, armed attackers briefly took over an Israeli-affiliated tanker before the US Navy apprehended it. Subsequently, missiles fired from rebel-held Yemen came within close range of a US warship supporting the vessel in the Gulf of Aden, stated a report in the Associated Press. The incident has raised tensions in the wake of several attacks on ships that are connected to Israel's ongoing conflict.
Zodiac Maritime, private intelligence firm Ambrey, and United States and British military sources have all stated that they were targeting the Liberian-flagged Central Park in the Gulf of Aden. Following the seizure, the armed individuals were forced to disembark and ultimately surrender by the US forces, which included the USS Mason. Missiles from Yemen under Houthi control were then fired and came down near the ships. Luckily, there were no wounds or losses reported from either vessel, the report added.
"Subsequently, five armed individuals debarked the ship and attempted to flee via their small boat," the Central Command said and added, "The Mason pursued the attackers resulting in their eventual surrender."
According to the report, the tanker is owned by Clumvez Shipping Inc., which has ties to the Zodiac Group, according to Zodiac Maritime, a division of Eyal Ofer's Zodiac Group. The attack, which Yemen's government blamed on the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, happened far from Houthi territory in an area that was ostensibly under the control of Yemeni government forces. Zodiac Maritime has been the target of incidents in the past that have happened during the ongoing shadow conflict between Israel and Iran.
"We would like to thank the coalition forces who responded quickly, protecting assets in the area and upholding international maritime law," the Zodiac group said.
"The Yemeni government has renewed its denunciation of the acts of maritime piracy carried out by the terrorist Houthi militias with the support of the Iranian regime, the most recent of which was the hijacking of Central Park," the statement by the government read.
According to data from MarineTraffic.com, recent incidents involving threats to Central Park and another ship connected to Israel, CMA CGM Symi, caused the ships to deactivate their safety systems. When it looks like a vessel is in danger, this action is frequently taken.
Growing maritime tensions have garnered attention in the context of broader regional conflicts, such as the trade of Palestinian prisoners for hostages during an Israel-Hamas truce. Even though the Houthis had not specifically targeted Americans in their prior actions, the recent developments in the maritime conflict have caused concern.
Concurrently, the US military reported that the USS Eisenhower and other warships had entered the Persian Gulf, indicating a stepping up of the military presence in the area amid increased tensions.