The aluminum catamaran still floats, but the damage is severe.
As we noted previously, details surrounding the attack on the UAE-operated logistics ship Swift remain very fuzzy. Most news outlets reported the ship was sunk. Contrary to those reports, it appears the ship–or what was left of it–was being towed to Eritrea for examination. It looks as if it has arrived there, and the pictures are not pretty.
As you can see, the vessel is badly damaged. Fires have burned off much of its forward upper structure. A large fissure in the bow appears to show where the weapon struck. If this is accurate, the height of its impact above the waterline was likely what kept the ship from sinking into the abyss. While the ship stayed afloat, major parts of the ship’s structure not directly affected by the blast were probably warped due to the heat from the resulting fire.
The UAE has released some new details about the incident. They claim the ship had been operating in and out of Aden for a year on a humanitarian mission. This claim, that military materiel and personnel were not moved by the ship, remains uncorroborated.
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The official position from the UAE government, as quoted by UAE news agency WAM, states:
”In more than a year of operating routine journeys to Aden, the civilian ship has carried thousands of tonnes of humanitarian assistance and more than 1,000 wounded people, along with their companions, in addition to large equipment for the electricity, water and healthcare sectors which had significantly eased the suffering of the residents of Aden through the restoration of the infrastructure in these vital sectors.”
The UAE government also has detailed the crew size and makeup for the ship at the time of the attack. 24 civilians of six nationalities manned the vessel. These included ten Indians, seven Ukranians, four Egyptians, one Jordanian, one Filipino, and one Lithuanian. No official manifest of passengers onboard, or details as to exactly how many were injured, killed, rescued or lost, has been made publically available.
As for Swift’s future? Judging by these pictures the ship will likely be scrapped. Swift and her sister ships are made mainly out of aluminum. The metal has its advantages, but it’s known to burn far more ferociously than steel. If anything else, the loss of Swift should be a lesson to Navies around the world that are operating surface combatants made out of similar materials.
The US Navy in particular should take heed of the incident: Its aluminum Littoral Combat Ships have reduced crew sizes compared to their traditional frigate predecessors, affecting the crew’s ability to fight fires and deal with battle damage. This attack indicates some of America’s most modern warships could suffer from similar effects after a successful attack. Traditional frigates made mainly out of steel have been known to be able to take similar hits with less catastrophic results.
Seeing as Swift, while in service with the US Navy, helped pave the way for the Littoral Combat Ships, it’s only fitting that its final voyage has the potential to affect the LCS program in a meaningful way. That is, if the Navy has the political will to investigate the incident and act on the conclusions drawn from it–even if those conclusions don’t support further production of a major weapons system.
Contact the author Tyler@thedrive.com
Incat-built HSV-2 Swift battered but not sunk in rocket attack
MORE images have emerged of the Tasmanian-built ship reportedly attacked by Yemeni forces last Saturday.
The images show that despite earlier claims that the Incat-built HSV Swift had been sunk in the attack, it remains damaged and upright in the water.
The front page of Wednesday’s United Arab Emirates English language newspaper The National shows large ragged holes in the hull of the wave-piercing catamaran.
Al-Masirah Television and Tasnim News Agency reported that the 98m HSV-2 Swift, built at the Prince of Wales Bay Incat shipyard in 2003, was destroyed in a rocket attack off the shores of the Red Sea port city of Mokha early on Saturday.
Al-Masirah reported that the Swift was carrying aid and equipment for the United Arab Emirates Army when it was targeted by an anti-ship missile. Yemeni fighters claim to have sunk the ship.
The UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs released its first statement on Wednesday saying the vessel was unarmed, had no military protection, and was carrying humanitarian assistance.
The 24 civilian crew members on board consisted of six nationalities — 10 Indians, seven Ukrainians, four Egyptians, a Jordanian, a Filipino and Lithuanian.
Reports of casualties have ranged from 22 dead to a number of injured.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade would not comment on the attack because there was no Australian Government link.
The ship’s builder, Incat, has also refused to comment.
The Australian shipbuilder Incat is renowned for construction of high speed lightweight catamarans. The ship design above, for commercial service, is similar to the SWIFT design.
Tags: Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, Aden, Al-Mokha, aluminum, aluminum warships, Australia, Australian shipbuilder, Bab al-Mandab, Emirati soldiers, Houthi, humanitarian, Incat, Iran, LCS program, Littoral Combat Ships, logistics ship, Red Sea, Red Sea shipping lane, Saudi Arabia, Saudis, Swift, UAE, UAE Marine Dredging Company, United Arab Emirates, US Navy, Yemen, Yemen's Houthi group