NYK-chartered car carrier seized in Yemen as shipping gets in crosshairs of Israel-Hamas war

Japanese shipping company NYK Line confirmed earlier today that its chartered car carrier Galaxy Leader was seized near Hodeida, Yemen.

“On the evening of November 19 in Tokyo (early afternoon local time), NYK was informed by Galaxy Maritime Ltd., which is based in the U.K., that an NYK-chartered pure car and truck carrier (PCTC) named Galaxy Leader had been seized near Hodeida, Yemen, while sailing for India. No cargo was on the vessel,” NYK said in a statement.

“At 8:30 a.m. today, NYK organized a crisis management center at its head office to gather information and manage this incident. As the vessel’s charterer, we are prioritizing the safety of the 25 crew members.”

Yemeni Armed Forces have taken responsibility for the seizure, claiming on Sunday, that its naval forces had captured an ‘Israeli ship’ and taken it to the Yemeni coast. The move is seen as a retaliation against Israel in relation to its ongoing war against Hamas which, as warned by the U.N, has created a humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

The Spokesperson of the Yemeni Armed Forces Yahya Sare’e said in a statement that the Yemeni armed forces would deal with the ship’s crew in accordance with the ‘principles and values of Islamic religion’.

The statement further warned that ‘all ships belonging to or dealing’ with Israel would become a ‘legitimate target‘ of the Yemeni armed forces until the ‘aggression against Gaza stops’.

“We call on all countries whose nationals work in the Red Sea to stay away from any work or activity with Israeli or Israeli-owned ships,” the statement further reads.

Even though the Bahamas-flagged Galaxy Leader is owned by a British company, and operated by a Japanese firm, media reports have said that the vessel is partially owned by the Israeli businessman Abraham Ungar, as reported by Al Jazeera.

Yemen’s Houthi group has subsequently released video footage of what is reportedly the dramatic hijacking of the Galaxy Leader in the Red Sea. The footage showcases armed individuals descending from a helicopter onto the vessel, forcefully taking control of the ship’s bridge, and holding the crew hostage.

As a response to the hijacking, two commercial vessels tied to Ray Car Carriers, the maritime group whose ship was captured, altered their routes in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden to avoid a similar destiny, Reuters reported citing shipping data and British maritime security company Ambrey.