The Galaxy Leader, a commercial ship, was illegally boarded by military personnel via a helicopter on November 19th and is now in the Hodeida port area in Yemen, according to the vessel’s owner. Isle of Man registered Galaxy Maritime Ltd, owner of the pure car carrier Galaxy Leader, stated that all communications were subsequently lost with the vessel. The company has decided not to comment further on the political or geopolitical situation surrounding the incident.
Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthis released video footage on Monday showing armed men dropping from a helicopter and seizing the cargo ship in the southern Red Sea. The United States has condemned the seizure as a breach of international law and has demanded the immediate release of the vessel and its crew. US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller stated that the Houthi seizure of the motor vessel Galaxy Leader in the Red Sea is a flagrant violation of international law. He further added that they will consult with their allies and UN partners to determine appropriate next steps.
The Bahamas-flagged Galaxy Leader has a crew consisting of nationals from Bulgaria, Ukraine, the Philippines, Mexico, and Romania. The vessel is chartered by Japan’s Nippon Yusen. Galaxy Maritime expressed their belief that the seizure of this vessel represents a gross violation of freedom of passage for the world fleet and a serious threat to international trade. Their 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.
The incident has raised concerns about the safety and security of commercial ships in the region. It highlights the ongoing conflict in Yemen and the risks faced by vessels navigating through these waters. The Red Sea is an important shipping route, connecting Europe, Asia, and Africa. Any disruption to maritime trade in this area could have significant economic consequences.
International maritime law guarantees freedom of navigation and passage for all vessels. The seizure of the Galaxy Leader is a clear violation of these principles. It is crucial for the international community to respond swiftly and decisively to ensure the safe release of the vessel and its crew. The United States has already called for action and is consulting with its allies and UN partners to determine the appropriate course of action.
The incident also underscores the need for increased security measures for commercial ships operating in high-risk areas. Ship owners and managers must prioritize the safety and security of their crew members. This includes implementing robust security protocols, conducting risk assessments, and providing adequate training for crew members to handle potential threats.
In recent years, there have been several incidents of piracy and illegal boarding of vessels in the waters off the coast of Somalia and the Gulf of Aden. These incidents have prompted the shipping industry to adopt stricter security measures, such as the use of armed guards on board ships and the establishment of international naval patrols in the region. Similar measures may need to be considered for the Red Sea to ensure the safety of commercial ships and their crew members.
The seizure of the Galaxy Leader is a reminder of the complex challenges faced by the shipping industry in navigating through politically unstable regions. It serves as a wake-up call for governments, international organizations, and industry stakeholders to work together to enhance maritime security and protect the freedom of navigation for all vessels. Only through collective action can we ensure the safety and security of commercial shipping and maintain the integrity of international trade.