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Aerial view of a tanker.

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A merchant vessel was hit and took damage offshore of Yemen, the U.K. Maritime Trade Operations said Wednesday, days after a ship struck by Iran-backed Houthis sank in the Red Sea.

The UKMTO said that the incident took place 54 nautical miles southwest of Aden, adding that the merchant vessel “suffered damage” and was being assisted by international coalition forces active regionally.

Earlier, the UKMTO reported that the merchant vessel was hailed for 30 minutes by an entity declaring itself to be the “Yemeni Navy,” before the ship was instructed to alter course. Vessels in the vicinity reported “a large bang, and a plume of smoke sighted,” according to the UKMTO.

In a note, global maritime risk expert Ambrey Analytics described the unnamed vessel as a Barbados-flagged, U.S.-owned bulk carrier, adding “reports confirmed the bulker had been struck and sustained damage” and “operations were underway with parts of the crew already in lifeboats.”

CNBC could not independently confirm the incident or the flag and ownership of the impaired vessel.

The latest attack comes after the Saturday sinking of the Belize-flagged general cargo Rubymar, which was abandoned at sea by its crew after being damaged by Houthi forces mid-February. The U.S. Central Command reported the submersion.

Houthi militants have been assailing passing-by vessels in the Red Sea, citing solidarity with Palestinian civilians in the besieged Gaza Strip. The Houthis claim to only target Israeli, U.S. and U.K.-linked ships, but have repeatedly struck at vessels that appeared to have no such connection.

The maritime disruptions have led several shipping firms and oil companies to suspend or redirect voyages from the key Yemen-adjacent route that accounts for roughly 12% of global seaborne transit.

Earlier this week, four out of 15 critical submarine cables in the Red Sea were cut, with HGC Communications assessing this impacted 25% of traffic. The cause of the incident was unclear. Yemen’s Minister of Telecommunications Musfir al-Numair on Monday said on social media that “in all the ministry’s statements, we emphasized that submarine cable ships must first obtain a permit from the Maritime Affairs in Sana’a before entering Yemeni territorial waters.”

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