Cargo Ship with 21,000 Tons of Fertilizer Sinks in the Red Sea, Posing Environmental Risk

Written by Henrik Rothen

Mar.03 - 2024 7:48 AM CET

Photo: Private
Photo: Private
Cargo Ship with 21,000 Tons of Fertilizer Sinks in the Red Sea, Posing Major Environmental Risk.

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The 'Rubymar', a cargo ship, sank in the Red Sea late Saturday night after being attacked by the Houthi movement in February, carrying a massive load of 21,000 tons of nitrogen fertilizer, now sparking environmental concerns in the region.

According to Al Jazeera, the sinking was reported by the United States Central Command (Centcom) via a post on the social media platform X, highlighting the environmental risks posed by the ship's descent.

"As the ship sinks further, it also poses a navigational risk to other vessels traversing the busy maritime routes," Centcom stated.

The attack on the 'Rubymar' by the Houthi movement occurred on February 18, with reports the following day suggesting the vessel was at risk of sinking. Since the attack, the ship has been taking on water, ultimately leading to its sinking around 02:15 AM on Saturday, as confirmed by Centcom.

Operating under the Belizean flag, the 'Rubymar' is managed by the Lebanese Blue Fleet Group. Despite initial plans announced by Blue Fleet Group to tow the ship to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, there have been no further comments from the company following the sinking or Centcom's warning about the environmental threat.

The fate of any plans to mitigate the environmental risk posed by the ship and its nitrogen fertilizer cargo remains unclear.

The crew of the 'Rubymar' has been evacuated.

The Houthi movement, based in Yemen, has been responsible for several attacks on cargo and tankers in the Red Sea since November, in protest against Israel's military actions against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The Houthis, allies of Hamas and supported by Iran, control significant parts of Yemen, including the capital Sanaa and the crucial port city of Hodeida.

These attacks have had significant repercussions for international shipping, prompting many shipping companies to reroute their vessels south around Africa to avoid the Red Sea on journeys between Europe and Asia, incurring additional time and fuel costs compared to the route via the Suez Canal and the Red Sea.