By LomaPari2021 @Adobe Stock

Jonathan Saul and Renee Maltezou of Reuters report that these USVs, loaded with explosives, represent a sophisticated shift in asymmetric warfare tactics, enabling the Houthis to strike with precision and at a distance, thus minimizing their exposure to counter-attacks. They write:

Yemen’s Houthis are sending drone boats packed with explosives into the Red Sea as they intensify their attacks on merchant ships that have little defence against the “sophisticated shift” in tactic, maritime security sources say.

Iran-aligned Houthi militants first launched aerial drone and missile strikes on the trade route in November in what they say is solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza. In over 70 attacks, they have sunk two vessels, seized another and killed at least three seafarers.

“In most cases we understand that the Houthis are using ‘spotters’ at sea, who often record the attack from a small distance, and on most (if not all) operations remotely steer the USV to the target,” MARISKS Maniatis added.
Insurance industry sources said that additional war risk premiums, paid when vessels sail through the Red Sea, were quoted up to 0.7% of the value of a ship in recent days from around 1% earlier this year, adding hundreds of thousands of dollars of extra costs and the latest threats could push rates higher in coming weeks.

Rates for Chinese vessels – seen as not having any connection with Israel or the U.S. which are targeted – have remained around 0.2% to 0.3% in contrast, sources added.

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