Floating mines threaten marine traffic in southern Red Sea

Image of classic sea mine. Credit: Naval Technology

The US Department of Transportation Maritime Administration (DOT MARAD) has issued a formal alert that mines have been reported in coastal waters between Midi, Yemen and Jizan, Saudi Arabia.

As such, MARAD has issued a warning that vessels should exercise caution when transiting this region.  The mines are believed to have drifted north from Yemen following a seasonal change of current flow.

The Company Security Officer (CSO) Alliance has confirmed that this alert was issued by the US DOT MARAD following the death of three Egyptian fishermen, killed by sea mine explosions in the southern Red Sea near Yemen on 5 February, as reported by the Saudi Press Agency.

Three other fishermen on board the same fishing boat were rescued by the Saudi-led coalition – the Arab Coalition – that are currently fighting alongside the Yemeni government in a war against Yemen’s Houthi rebels, which has been ongoing since 2015.

In a statement issued by the Arab Coalition shortly after the incident, spokesperson Turki Al-Maliki confirmed that they had responded to a communication reporting the sinking of a fishing boat in international waters in the Red Sea as a result of a naval mine explosion at 2 am local time on 5 February. They have since accused Houthi rebels of being responsible for the incident.

Maliki also issued this statement, “The Iran-backed Houthi militia’s continued planting and deploying [of] naval mines is a serious threat to maritime navigation and international trade in the south of the Red Sea and Bab-el-Mandeb strait.”

Just days after the incident, navy patrols of the Yemeni Army’s 5th Military Zone found and dismantled seven unexploded naval mines located off the Red Sea island of Sana.

According to Maliki, a total of 137 mines, planted and deployed indiscriminately by Houthi militia, in the south of the Red Sea and Bab-el-Mandeb strait have been discovered and destroyed thus far.