Hijacked vessel: GALAXY LEADER


The Red Sea is a strategically important waterway that serves as a vital link between Europe, Africa, and Asia. It is one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, Skytek records about 30,000 ships transiting its waters annually. This accounts for more than 14% of global seaborne trade.

Narrow and congested waterway, the Bab El MandeB strait is a critical chokepoint for maritime shipping. Last week, the leader of the Iran-backed Houthis militia of Yemen launched a threat to all ships owned or connected to Israel, apparently in connection to the Israeli – Hamas war.

Galaxy Leader – IMO 9237307

The Galaxy Leader is a 5,110 CEU capacity Vehicle Carrier built in 2002 with a deadweight tonnage (DWT) of 17,127. It is registered under the Bahamas flag, classified by the Det Norske Veritas (DNV), and insured by the West of England P&I. The vessel is owned by Galaxy Maritime Ltd Isle of Man, group owned by Ray Car Carriers Ltd, and operated by NYK Line.

The group owner, Ray Car Carriers, is reportedly partly owned by an Israeli national, Abraham Rami Ungar which made the vessel a potential target in the Houthis recent threat to Shipping connected to Israel.

After discharging in the Car Terminal of Yarimca Port in Turkey, the Vehicles Carrier Galaxy Leader departed on November 14th to Pipavav Port in India.

The vessel exited the Suez Canal on November 16th and turned off its AIS transponder on November 18th, attempting probably to transit the southern part of the Red Sea undetected.

The Galaxy Leader was in ballast condition without cargo, with a draft of 7.5 meters and a freeboard of 22.96 meters.

Skytek notes that the estimated track of the Galaxy Leader passed near the Iranian flag ship Behshad – IMO: 91672 in the early morning of November 19th, and a few hours after the vessel was approached by an MI 17 helicopter deploying Houthis militia which took over the vessel at about 1105UTC on November 19th.

Houthi spokesperson Yahya Saree said in a statement that the rebels “carried out a military operation in the Red Sea, the results of which were the seizure of an Israeli ship and taking it to the Yemeni coast.” and a video was released on social media supporting that vessel was boarded at 1105UTC from a helicopter by Houthis militia members.

Skytek utilized high-resolution satellite imagery to track the vessel’s movements and pinpoint its location within the anchorage area near Hodeidah port in Yemen’s Al Hudaydah Governorate.

Skytek analyzed the vessel’s track data obtained from its AIS transmissions and mapped out its probable route based on its recorded speed of 17 knots. This analysis enabled the estimation of the location where the vessel was potentially boarded before its subsequent journey to Hodeidah anchorage.

The vessel’s track and captured imagery while anchored near Hodeidah are presented in Figure 1.

Figure 1 – Planet satellite imagery and Skytek mapping track and current location of Galaxy Leader on November 21st, 2023.

Skytek is continuously employing high-resolution imagery to closely monitor the vessel’s location, condition, and any potential developments.

EO satellite image providers:


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