Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United Nations has identified the tanker that was attacked with a remotely controlled boat carrying explosives in the Gulf of Aden on 3 March as Gladiolus (IMO: 9169548), a Saudi-flagged vessel.
At the time, Colonel Turki al-Maliki, the spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition fighting the Ansar Allah (Houthi) group in Yemen, said a tanker that was heading towards Aden was attacked 90 n miles southeast of the Yemeni coastal town of Nishtun by four boats, at least one of which was unmanned and carrying explosives.
Col Maliki did not say how the attack was thwarted or identify the perpetrators but the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) released photographs showing what appeared to be an armed man on a large vessel observing approaching skiffs, one of which then swerved away to reveal that no one was on board.
In a letter to the UN Security Council that was released on 22 March, Saudi Permanent Representative to the UN Abdallah al-Mouallimi named the tanker but provided no additional details of the incident.
He noted the failed attack was "the first time unmanned, remote-controlled exploding boats would have been used in the Gulf of Aden" and blamed it on Ansar Allah. "It proves that the Houthi militia is expanding its terrorist acts that threaten maritime security in the Gulf of Aden and the south of the Red Sea," he wrote.
Ansar Allah has never claimed responsibility for attacks on civilian shipping but there is evidence that Iran is sending it kits to convert boats into unmanned vehicles.
The SPA reported a statement by Col Maliki on 17 March saying the Saudi-led coalition had targeted two remotely controlled boats carrying explosives that were launched from Al-Hudaydah province on Yemen's Red Sea coast. He said this brought the number of such weapons that had been destroyed up to 46, as well as 153 sea mines.
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