Earlier this week, a spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition backing the Yemeni government reported that Houthi rebels boarded a tug off the coast of Hodeidah and sources said that the tug has been brought to the Houthi-controlled seaport of Salif, just north of Hodeidah.
The vessels, identified as the Woongjin T-1100, Woongjin G-16 and Rabigh 3, were hijacked on Sunday, November 17, while sailing through the southern Red Sea, by two boats carrying terrorists belonging to the Houthi militia. He further added that the Houthis have for a long time affecting the security of the Bab al-Mandeb Strait with their acts of piracy and kidnapping.
The captured ships as well as the 16 seafarers aboard, two of whom were South Korean nationals, were taken to the Yemeni town of Salif, and Houthi authorities set off an investigation into the vessels' presence in Houthi-claimed waters.
Then, the South Korean government employed the destroyer Dae Jo-yeong, the primary component of South Korea's Cheonghae naval unit, which maintains an anti-piracy patrol in the nearby Gulf of Aden, and accompanying assets to respond to the scene.
On Wednesday, November 20, all three captured vessels were released and set off for the Saudi port of Jazan, where they are expected to arrive on Friday, November 22.
The South Korean foreign ministry stated that
The results come from cooperation with U.S. and allies, Saudi Arabia, Oman, and the U.A.E.’s efforts
Houthi forces have conducted a series of attacks on Saudi merchant and military shipping through multiple technical means, including naval mines, missiles and remote-controlled bomb boats, since the Yemeni civil war started in 2014.
In 2018, Houthi rebels in Yemen attacked a Saudi Arabian oil tanker off Hodeidah. The Houthis said that this attack was made to avenge a Saudi aerial assault on Hodeidah; the only Yemeni port that Houthis control.
According to the Saudi-led coalition, the attack on Hodeidah aimed military targets. From their part, the Houthis do not have air force, but they repeatedly fire missiles into Saudi Arabia. Then, the Arab coalition proceeded to pause a three-week blockade in Yemeni ports, which had been imposed when the Houthis movement fired a ballistic missile toward the Saudi capital Riyadh.