Russia’s sanctioned Sovcomflot says its ship rescued crew from tanker off Yemen

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A ship operated by Russian shipping group Sovcomflot rescued the crew of a tanker taking in water off Yemen’s coast this week, the state-owned company, which is under Western sanctions, said on Wednesday.

Sovcomflot tanker NS Africa was sailing southeast of the port of Nishtun in southern Yemen on June 23 when it responded to a distress call by the Lavant tanker whose crew had abandoned ship and were in a life raft in the open sea.

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“At 1410 local time, the crew of the tanker NS Africa ... carried out an operation to rescue 19 sailors, among whom were citizens of India, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Indonesia,” SCF said in a statement.

SCF added that the rescued seafarers were scheduled to disembark in the Egyptian port of Suez on June 29 with none of the crew missing or injured.

Lavant’s operators could not be located for comment.

Maritime security sources said the vessel was unlikely to have been targeted by Yemen’s Houthis.

Iran-aligned Houthi militants first launched drone and missile strikes on the trade route in November in what they say is solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza. In over 70 attacks, they have sunk two vessels, seized another and killed at least three seafarers.

It is unknown whether the Verbena cargo ship, which was attacked by the Houthis earlier in June, was still afloat after it was separately abandoned by its crew.

Dangers posed by ageing tankers hit by sanctions are among other perils ships face.

Earlier this week the European Union imposed sanctions on Sovcomflot (SCF), following the designation of 14 of its tankers by Washington earlier this year that did not include the NS Africa.

Sanctions on shipping companies are undermining safety at sea and pose dangers for trade as ship standards are impacted, SCF’s CEO said in comments released on Tuesday.

Read more:

Crew forced to abandon vessel southeast of Yemen’s Nishtun: UKMTO

Houthis believed to have sunk second ship in the Red Sea: UKMTO

Ship in Gulf of Aden, Israel port city Eilat targeted in suspected Houthi attack

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