29 NOV 2023
A container ship owned by a prominent Israeli-owned shipping company has been attacked by an Iranian drone in the Indian Ocean, an American defense official has confirmed to AP News.
A “suicide” Shahed-136 attack drone struck the 15,000-TEU CMA CGM SYMI on Friday, the official said. The ship sustained damage but the crew were unharmed, the official said.
The Shahed-136 is an Iranian mass-produced suicide drone, commonly used by Iran’s proxies in the Middle East. It is also employed by Russia, which has purchased Shaheds in quantity for use against civilian infrastructure and military targets in Ukraine.
The official suggested that the intelligence on Friday’s strike points to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which has carried out multiple attacks on ships linked to Iran’s geopolitical opponents.
Though CMA CGM SYMI has the name of a French shipping line on the hull, the vessel itself is owned by Singapore-based Eastern Pacific Shipping (EPS). EPS is owned by Idan Ofer, a second-generation member of the shipping dynasty started by his father Sammy Ofer in 1950.
Idan Ofer’s brother Eyal Ofer is the owner of Zodiac Group, and vessels owned by both men’s holding companies have been attacked by Iran-linked groups previously. A Zodiac-owned tanker was boarded and captured by unidentified assailants in the Gulf of Aden on Sunday.
Last week, Houthi rebels boarded and seized the PCTC Galaxy Leader, operated by Isle of Man-based Ray Car Carriers. The firm is owned by Israeli shipowner Abraham “Rami” Ungar, according to corporate records disclosed in the Paradise Papers leak. Houthi leaders have promised to target Israel-linked shipping in retaliation for the ongoing Israeli military operation in Gaza.