Unidentified individuals hijacked the Liberian-flagged tanker Central Park, linked to Israel, off the coast of Yemen on Sunday, according to maritime security company Ambrey.
The vessel is operated by Zodiac Maritime, part of the Zodiac Group owned by Israeli businessman Eyal Ofer. It was built in 2015 and is owned by Clumvez Shipping Inc.
The tanker was reportedly carrying a cargo of phosphoric acid, a chemical mostly used for fertilizers.
According to a statement from the U.S. military, the USS Mason, with assistance from allied vessels, insisted that the commercial ship be released by the attackers. Five armed individuals tried to escape on a fast boat but were captured by the U.S. warship. Additionally, two ballistic missiles fired from Houthi-controlled areas in Yemen landed about 10 nautical miles away from the Mason and Central Park, causing no harm.
The U.S. Navy has urged vessels to avoid the affected area.
Zodiac Maritime has labeled the incident as piracy, stating that the tanker, with a Turkish captain, carries a multinational crew of 22 members, including Russians. The crew comprises individuals from Russia, Vietnam, Bulgaria, India, Georgia, and the Philippines.
The perpetrators behind the hijacking remain unknown. The city of Aden, where the tanker was seized, is controlled by forces aligned with the internationally recognized Yemeni government and the Saudi-led coalition.
Zodiac Maritime has faced attacks before, notably in 2021 when a drone attack, attributed by the U.S. and Western nations to Iran, resulted in the death of two crew members on the Mercer Street oil tanker off the coast of Oman.
This event follows the recent seizure of the Galaxy Leader cargo ship by Yemeni rebels in November, owned by a British company. The rebels had previously declared their intention to target ships affiliated with Israeli companies or displaying the Israeli flag.