Dryad Maritime Incident Reports: Yemen, 22nd August

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The following analysis was issued by Dryad Maritime on Saturday 22 August. The report illustrates the dynamic nature of the situation in Yemen and its impact upon maritime trade.

Recent days have seen an increase in naval activity around the Red Sea ports of Hodeida and Saleef. On the night of 17th August, Saudi Arabian led coalition aircraft bombed the port of Hodeidah causing damage to wharves, cranes, warehouses and port infrastructure leading to a ceasing of operations. Naval forces of the Saudi Arabian Coalition are patrolling the approaches to Hodeidah and have restricted access to Saleef port – it is reported that all ships were ordered out of the port in the early hours of the morning on the 21st August.

The port authorities in Aden have declared that the port of Aden is now open to commercial vessels. In a further announcement by the Aden Ports Development Company, it was confirmed that the container terminal was undamaged during the recent fighting and it too is ready to receive commercial shipping.

The build-up of naval forces and the restrictions on commercial shipping in the Red Sea may be a precursor to military action against the Houthi rebels who hold the ports of Hodeidah and Saleef. In March, when the Saudi led coalition was formed, there was an announcement that the ports of Yemen had been closed. The Red Sea ports of Hodeidah and Saleef continued to accept vessels, however, provided they had the correct permissions. These vessels would be stopped, questioned and sometimes searched by coalition warships prior to entry. The situation has now changed and all vessels are being turned away from these ports. This has caused much concern for aid organisations who were relying on food shipments through Saleef and Hodeidah. Houthi rebels have been pushed out of the port city of Aden allowing the docks to recommence commercial activity. Since late July shipments of humanitarian aid have been observed being delivered there, but on 21st August the first commercial vessel safely docked at Aden.

The blockade of the Red Sea ports is likely to continue until Houthi forces are forced out of these
cities. With ground forces pushing up from the south, the coalition look to be attempting to open another front in the west of the country. Any vessel hoping to call at either Hodeidah or Saleef should contact local agents for the latest information.

The above report is part of Dryad’s Incident & Advisory (I&A) reporting stream – a service aimed at building Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) and providing timely alerts and analysis of maritime threats. To learn more about receiving these reports, contact: enquiries@dryadmaritime.com

Editor: Please note, the dates and events referred to in this report are accurate of their publication date, 22nd August.