The NYK Line-chartered pure car and truck carrier (PCTC) Galaxy Leader was seized on November 19 near Hodeida, Yemen, while sailing for India.

NYK said that it was alerted to the incident by Galaxy Maritime, which is based in the UK, and it has organised a crisis management centre at its head office in Japan to gather information and manage this incident. “As the vessel’s charterer, we are prioritising the safety of the 25 crew members,” it said, adding that no cargo was on the vessel.

Yemen’s armed forces claimed responsibility for the incident. Yahya Saree a spokesperson for the group, said on social media that it had managed to “capture an Israeli ship in the depths of the Red Sea taking it to the Yemeni coast,” and that, “the Yemeni armed forces reiterate their warning to all ships belonging to or dealing with the Israeli enemy that they will become a legitimate target for armed forces”.

A statement from the office of the Israeli prime minister said: “Israel strongly condemns the Iranian attack against an international vessel. The ship, which is owned by a British company and is operated by a Japanese firm, was hijacked with Iran guidance by the Yemenite Houthi militia. Onboard the vessel are 25 crew members of various nationalities including Ukrainian, Bulgarian, Filipino and Mexican. No Israelis are onboard.”

Al Jazeera reports that the vessel is owned by UK-headquartered Ray Car Carriers, which was founded by Israeli businessman Abraham Ungar.