Houthi Rebels Hijack Car Carrier Galaxy Leader, Raising Regional Security Alarms

Strategic Precision Unveiled: Yemen’s Houthi Militants Execute Maritime Hijacking of Car Carrier Galaxy Leader, Showcasing Coordinated Tactics and Heightening Regional Security Concerns

Houthi fighters advance along the top deck of the Galaxy Leader (Houthi Military Media)

In a meticulously orchestrated operation, Yemen’s Houthi rebel group executed the hijacking of the car carrier Galaxy Leader, unveiling their strategic prowess by releasing video footage that confirms prior Western reports. The footage, showcasing a high level of sophistication, indicates a preplanned media component to Sunday’s operation.

The video, shot from a high-definition camera attached to the tail of a Mi-17 helicopter, recorded the precise movements of the aircraft as it approached the vessel. The armed boarding team, disembarking from the helicopter, strategically positioned themselves across the car carrier’s top deck. Notably, at least one soldier equipped with a helmet-mounted camera documented their movements, while another utilized a selfie stick-mounted camera on his pack, as reported by TankerTrackers.com. The seamless compilation of this footage was disseminated online within a remarkably short timeframe.

The aerial approach of the helicopter from astern strategically exploited the limited visibility of the car carrier’s bridge watchstanders. The boarding team, executing a seemingly rehearsed and coordinated maneuver, advanced along the top deck from the landing zone, strategically utilizing deck machinery, vents, and other obstacles for cover.

A notable aspect revealed by the footage is that the attack unfolded in broad daylight, contrary to the International Maritime Security Construct’s prior warning. This advisory had recommended vessels transit past Yemen’s coast during darkness to mitigate the risk of detection, emphasizing an unusual cautionary measure for one of the world’s busiest maritime thoroughfares. Daytime attacks pose schedule implications and commercial effects for shipping operations.

The Houthi rebel militia, in control of northern Yemen, declared on Sunday that they had captured the Israeli-linked ship, PCTC Galaxy Leader, operated by NYK and commercially managed by the Isle of Man-incorporated, Israeli-owned ro/ro firm Ray Car Carriers.

Israel’s defense ministry, while refuting the vessel’s classification as “Israeli,” acknowledged the gravity of the incident, describing it as “a very grave incident of global consequence.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office reported that the 25 crew members aboard are of diverse nationalities, with none being Israeli, drawing primarily from the top seafarer-supplying countries.

Israel has condemned the attack as “another act of Iranian terrorism,” underscoring Iran’s prominent role as the primary foreign sponsor of the Houthi rebel cause. The incident heightens regional tensions, emphasizing the need for enhanced maritime security measures in the volatile waters surrounding Yemen.

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