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A Ghost Ship’s Doomed Journey Through the Gate of Tears

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A Ghost Ship’s Doomed Journey Through the Gate of Tears

The ballistic missile hit the Rubymar on the evening of February 18. For months, the cargo ship shuttled around the Arabian Sea, calling at local ports without any problems. But now taking on water in the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait chokepoint, the two dozen crew members issued an urgent call for help and prepared to abandon ship.

Over the next two weeks – while the crew was on land – the ‘ghost ship’ took on a life of its own. Carried by currents and pushed by the wind, it is 17 meters long and 27 meters wide Rubymar drifted about 30 nautical miles north, where it eventually sank – becoming the most high-profile wreck during a months-long barrage of missiles and drones launched by Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. Having the attacks turned global shipping upside down.

But the Rubymar was not the only victim. During its last voyage, three internet cables laid on the seabed in the Strait of Bab-el-Mandeb were damaged. The drop in connectivity affected millions of people, from nearby East Africa to thousands of miles away in Vietnam. Are believed The ship’s towing anchor may have broken the cables as it drifted. The Rubymar also brought 21,000 tons of fertilizer to its watery grave – a potential environmental disaster waiting to happen.

An analysis by WIRED, based on satellite images, interviews with maritime experts and new internet connectivity data that showed the cables were broken offline within minutes of each other—follows the final movements of the doomed ship. While our analysis cannot definitively prove that the anchor caused the damage to the crucial internet cables – which can only be determined by an upcoming repair mission – several experts conclude that this is the most likely scenario.

The damage to the internet cables comes as the security of undersea infrastructure – including internet cables and energy pipelines – has been compromised has catapulted countries’ priorities. Politicians have become increasingly concerned on critical infrastructure since the start of the war between Russia and Ukraine in February 2022 and beyond series of potential sabotage, including the Nord Stream pipeline explosions. As Houthi weapons continue to hit ships in the Red Sea region, there are concerns Rubymar This may not be the last shipwreck.

The Rubymar‘s official trail goes cold on February 18. At 8:00 PM local time, reports emerged that a ship in the Strait of Bab-el-Mandeb, also known as the Gate of Tears or the Gate of Sorrow, had been attacked. Two anti-ship ballistic missiles were fired from ‘Iran-backed terrorist-controlled Houthi areas in Yemen’, US Central Command said. Ninety minutes after the alerts arrived, around 9:30 p.m., the Rubymar broadcasts its final location using the Automatic Identification System (AIS), a GPS-like positioning system used to track ships.

When water began to flow into the hull, engine room and engine room, the crew’s distress call was answered by the Lobivia– a nearby container ship – and a US-led ship coalition warship. The crew was reported at 1:57 a.m. on February 19 safe. That afternoon, the eleven Syrians, six Egyptians, three Indians and four Filipinos on board arrived at the port of Djibouti. “We don’t know the coordinates Rubymar”, the Port Authority of Djibouti Posted on X.

Satellite images picked up the Rubymarits path illuminated by an oil slick two days later, on February 20. Although the crew dropped the anchor from the ship during the rescue operation the ship drifted north, further up the strait towards the Red Sea.

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