Crew of seized Galaxy Leader allowed ‘modest’ contact with families -shipowner By Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The Galaxy Leader cargo ship is escorted by Houthi boats in the Red Sea in this photo released November 20, 2023. Houthi Military Media/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) – The crew of the Galaxy Leader commercial ship seized by Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthis last month have been allowed “modest contact” with their families while various countries push for their release, the vessel’s owner said this week.

The Bahamas flagged car carrier was taken to the port of Hodeidah in the Houthi controlled north of Yemen after being boarded at sea on Nov. 19 by commandos with the group.

The vessel’s crew is made up of nationals from Bulgaria, Ukraine, the Philippines, Mexico and Romania, Galaxy Maritime said. The vessel is chartered by Japan’s Nippon Yusen.

“The safety and welfare of the crew members remains the priority of both owners and managers and the modest contact that has been allowed with crew members and their families suggests that the seafarers are being treated as well as can be expected in the circumstances,” Isle of Man registered owner Galaxy Maritime Ltd, said in a statement on Monday.

“The 25 crew members being held have no connection whatsoever with the current situation in the region,” the owner said. “Nothing can be achieved by their further detention.”

The United States has blamed the Houthis for a series of attacks in Middle Eastern waters since war broke out between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas on Oct. 7. Three vessels were attacked in the Red Sea area on Sunday.

At an assembly session on Monday of the UN shipping agency’s highest governing body, the United States, the Bahamas and Japan called for the unconditional release of the Galaxy Leader and its crew.

Japan’s delegation told the International Maritime Organization assembly that it “strongly condemns those acts which threaten the safety and freedom of navigation in that area”.

The Bahamas said the various attacks including the Galaxy Leader were a “violation of all of the norms relating to innocent passage of ships”.

“Here we have non-state actors so who do you hold responsible?” the Bahamas said, referring to the Houthis.

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