LONDON, Nov 20 (Reuters) – The commercial ship Galaxy Leader was “illegally boarded by military personnel via helicopter” on Nov. 19 and is now in Yemen’s Hodeidah port area, the ship’s owner said on Monday.

“All communications were subsequently lost with the vessel,” Isle of Man-registered Galaxy Maritime Ltd, owner of car carrier Galaxy Leader, said in a statement.

“The company, as a shipping company, will not make any further comments on the political or geopolitical situation. »

Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthis released video footage on Monday showing gunmen dropping a helicopter and seizing a cargo ship in the southern Red Sea.

(1/5)Houthi fighters take positions on the deck of the cargo ship Galaxy Leader in the Red Sea in this photo released November 20, 2023. Houthi military media/Handout via REUTERS Acquire licensing rights

The United States denounced the seizure of the ship as a violation of international law and demanded the immediate release of the ships and their crews.

“The Houthi seizure of the motor ship Galaxy Leader in the Red Sea constitutes a flagrant violation of international law,” US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said at a press briefing. “We demand the immediate release of the ship and its crew and will consult with our UN allies and partners on appropriate next steps. »

The crew of the Bahamas-flagged Galaxy Leader is made up of nationals from Bulgaria, Ukraine, the Philippines, Mexico and Romania, Galaxy Maritime said. The ship is chartered by the Japanese Nippon Yusen.

“The owners and managers believe that the seizure of this vessel represents a flagrant violation of the freedom of passage of the global fleet and a serious threat to international trade,” Galaxy Maritime said.

He added that “the primary concern at this time is the safety and security of the 25 crew members currently detained by the perpetrators of this criminal act.”

Reporting by Jonathan Saul; additional reporting by Jonathan Landay and Daphne Psaledakis in Washington; edited by Christina Fincher and David Gregorio

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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