Houthi Rebels Capture Ship With Saudi Military Equipment

The Houthi press spokesman confirmed on 3 January, that the rebels had successfully captured a cargo ship belonging to the United Arab Emirates. The pro-Iran fighters hijacked M/V Rwabee which, from released images, appears to have been carrying Saudi Arabian military vehicles, gear, and equipment. The Rwabee, a civilian operated landing craft, was reportedly bound for the Saudi port of Jizan.

The capture of the ship took place at night on 2 January, near the port town of Al-Hudaiada on the Red Sea. Royal Navy Maritime Trade Operations received the signal of the hijacked M/V Rwabee, however, were unable to react in time. With minimal effort and no resistance from the crew, Houthi rebels managed to take control of the cargo ship and deliver it to militia-controlled coast.

According to the Houthi spokesperson, the ship entered the Yemeni territorial waters which are under the control of the rebels, and the ship and its crew were arrested. Saudi Arabia have stated that the vessel was carrying medical supplies and equipment. While photographs from the vessel do include what appears to be an ambulance they also show that the equipment aboard the vessel consisted including of an HEMTT, an AM General HMMWV, a field kitchen, RHIB boats, rifles, and personal equipment.

The ship was conducting a transport mission from the Island of Socotra to Jizan Port. It was reportedly carrying elements of a temporary military hospital after it was no longer needed due to the construction of a new, permanent facility. Members of the Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthi rebels stated that the act of piracy committed by Iran-backed militants will not remain unanswered. The coalition already called for the release of the ship and its crew from captivity. It also threatened to undertake military operations if the demands will not be fulfilled by the rebels.

The status of the crew remains unknown, however, it is possible that rebels will demand a ransom before setting them free. The combat and medical equipment captured will surely be put to use by Houthi forces in the future.