LONDON, Nov 20 (Reuters) – The Galaxy Leader commercial ship was “illegally boarded by military personnel via a helicopter” on Nov. 19 and is now in the Hodeidah port area of Yemen, the vessel’s owner said on Monday.
“All communications were subsequently lost with the vessel,” Isle of Man-registered Galaxy Maritime Ltd, owner of the clean car carrier Galaxy Leader, said in a statement.
“As a shipping company, the company will not comment further on the political or geopolitical situation.”
Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthis released video footage on Monday showing gunmen dropping from a helicopter and seizing a cargo ship in the southern Red Sea.
The United States condemned the ship’s seizure as a violation of international law and demanded the immediate release of the ships and its crew.
– The Houthi seizure of the motor vessel Galaxy Leader in the Red Sea is a flagrant violation of international law, US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller told a briefing. “We demand the immediate release of the ship and its crew, and we will consult with our allies and UN partners on appropriate next steps.”
The Bahamas-flagged Galaxy Leader’s crew consists of nationals from Bulgaria, Ukraine, the Philippines, Mexico and Romania, Galaxy Maritime said. The ship is chartered by Japan’s Nippon Yusen.
“Owners and managers believe that the seizure of this vessel represents a gross violation of the freedom of passage of the world fleet and a serious threat to international trade,” Galaxy Maritime said.
It added that “the main concern at this time is the safety and security of the 25 crew members who are currently being held by the perpetrators of this criminal act”.
Reporting by Jonathan Saul; additional reporting by Jonathan Landay and Daphne Psaledakis in Washington; editing by Christina Fincher and David Gregorio
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