Old, unrelated footage shared as visuals of attack on British ship by Houthi rebels

By: Soham Shah
February 23 2024

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Old, unrelated footage shared as visuals of attack on British ship by Houthi rebels

TikTok post sharing a video with the claim it shows a British ship being attacked by Houthi militants. (Source: TikTok)


The Verdict False

The first clip shows a fire on the ship Maersk Honam in 2018. Only 1 of the 13 visuals in the video is related to the recent attack on a British ship.

Claim ID c9d6b5da

What is the claim?

A 105-second long video, insinuating that it shows visuals of a recent incident where Iran-backed Houthi rebels attacked a British ship, is going viral on TikTok. The video carries several images of sailing vessels, helicopters, and military planes, which have been linked to the said incident. 

One post sharing the video carried the overlaid text that read "UK ship struck by Iran-backed militants," while another also carried the line "An unarmed ship. Cowards." Another iteration had the overlaid text "Breaking News." All the videos carried a voiceover which appeared to be from a news segment. Archived links to such posts can be found here, here, here, and here.

TikTok posts sharing a video with the claim that it shows a U.K. ship attacked by Houthi militants. (Source: TikTok)

These posts surfaced within days of the British-linked tanker Marlin Luanda being attacked by Iran-backed Houthi rebels in the Gulf of Aden on January 27. According to BBC, a Houthi spokesperson claimed the Marlin Luanda, which was being operated by a U.K. registered company, was a British ship and had been hit in response to "American-British aggression against our country." Reports said that the fire on the ship as a result of the attack was later put out and the vessel was on its way to a safe harbor.  

Of the 13 visuals shown in the viral video, only one is actually of the attack on the Marlin Luanda. The other 12 are old and unrelated visuals. 

What did we find?

We found that the audio laid over the video on TikTok is taken from an ABC news telecast uploaded on their YouTube channel on January 27. The segment was titled "UK ship struck by Iran-backed militants." This report was about the Marlin Luanda being attacked by a Houthi missile. 

Further, we found that the first visual of a ship on fire, seen just as the viral video begins, is unrelated to the attack on the Marlin Luanda. 

Having noted the words 'Maersk Line' written on the ship, we ran searches using related keywords and found an extended version of the footage in question posted on YouTube on January 16, 2019. The video was titled "Maersk Honam cut in two shipped to Hyundai Heavy to be rebuilt."

Taking a cue from this, we found videos of the rescue operations of the ship Maersk Honam uploaded by the Indian Coast Guard on X (formerly Twitter) on March 9, 2018. These videos show the same ship on fire.

Media outlets such as The Times of India also reported on the fire aboard the ship in March 2018 and the rescue operation carried out by the Indian Coast Guard.

Maersk also uploaded a statement about the incident on their website on October 20, 2020, which said the vessel caught fire on March 6, 2018, adding that the fire broke out in cargo hold number 3 when the ship was in the Arabian Sea and was headed towards Suez. The statement further noted that the ship was flying under the Singaporean flag and said that while the cause of the fire is not conclusive, it likely originated "from the decomposition of dangerous cargo generating intense heat." 

Other photos and clips in the video

The video also had multiple other images that followed this clip; we found that only one of them genuinely showed the recent Houthi attack on the British ship. Using reverse image search and keyword search, we found that 11 other images used in the video did not show visuals of the strike on Marlin Luanda. These images included photos of military retaliations against Houthis, various Houthi attacks on ships, and other unrelated incidents. 

We found that the next visual showing a ship in the water is actually the guided-missile destroyer USS Carney in Souda Bay, Greece, uploaded on AP Newsroom on December 3, 2023. Meanwhile, the one after of a missile, which we traced back to the photo-hosting website Alamy, shows flight tests of the Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IB Threat Upgrade guided missile aboard the USS Hopper (DDG 70) off the coast of Hawaii in May 2016.


Image 1: The guided-missile destroyer USS Carney in Souda Bay, Greece. (Source: Petty Officer 3rd Class Bill Dodge/U.S. Navy via AP)

Image 2: USS Hopper (DDG 70) conducting missile tests off the coast of Hawaii.(Source: AB Forces News Collection /Alamy Stock Photo)

The next two visuals after this show a ship on fire in the middle of the ocean and a large tanker in the water. The former is from a May 2021 incident off the coast of Sri Lanka, when the Singapore-registered ship MV X-Press Pearl caught fire. Logically Facts had earlier fact-checked claims linking this visual to Houthi attacks on ships in the Red Sea. Meanwhile, the other photo shows a Trafigura Oil Tanker, which we found in a video uploaded to YouTube by Trafigura in September 2020. An oil tanker of this company was hit by a Houthi missile in the Red Sea in January 2024, but the incident is unrelated to the fire on the Marlin Luanda.

Image 1: X-Press Pearl burning in 2021. (Source: Safety4Sea)

Image 2: Trafigura Oil Tanker. (Source:YouTube/Trafigura Corporate)

We found that the follolwing two images showing a ship launching a missile and a helicopter hovering above a ship were actually an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, USS Carney (DDG 64), firing a missile to defend against Houthi missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles in the Red Sea, October 19, 2023, and a Houthi military helicopter flying over the Galaxy Leader cargo ship in the Red Sea in November 2023 respectively.

Image 1: The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Carney (DDG 64) in the Red Sea, Oct. 19, 2023. (Source: Petty Officer 2nd Class Aaron Lau/U.S. Navy)

Image 2: Houthi military helicopter flies over the Galaxy Leader cargo ship in the Red Sea. (Source: Houthi Military Media/Handout via Reuters)

The subsequent two images showing a fighter jet and armed people on a ship were actually visuals from a Royal Air Force Typhoon FGR4 taking off from RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus to carry out air strikes against Houthi military targets in Yemen on January 22, and Houthi fighters taking positions on the deck of the Galaxy Leader cargo ship in the Red Sea on November 2023. 


Image 1: A Royal Air Force Typhoon FGR4 takes off to carry out air strikes against Houthi military targets in Yemen, from RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus. (Source: AS1 Leah Jones/U.K. Ministry of Defense/UPI Credit: UPI/Alamy Live News)
Image 2: Houthi fighters take positions on the deck of the Galaxy Leader cargo ship in the Red Sea in this photo released November 20, 2023. (Source: Houthi Military Media/Handout via Reuters)

After this, the video displays two photos of a ship launching a rocket and tanks with guns positioned to aim. We found that these showed the USS Hopper intercepting a missile during an exercise in Hawai’i in 2009 and U.S. soldiers guarding an oil field in Deir Ezzor Governorate, Syria, in March 2019.

Image 1: Aegis-class destroyer USS Hopper (DDG 70) during an exercise in Barking Sans, Kauai. July 30, 2009. (Source: Fox News/U.S. Navy photo/Released)

Image 2: US soldiers guard an oil field in Deir Ezzor Governorate, Syria, March, 2019. (Source: Arab News/Reuters)

The next image shows the USS Carl Vinson on its way to Busan port in Busan, South Korea, on March 15, 2017, to participate in an annual joint military exercise called Foal Eagle between South Korea and the United States. 

The USS Carl Vinson at Busan port in Busan, South Korea on March 15, 2017. (Source: Associated Press)

The last image in the video is the only genuine image from the attack on Marlin Luanda. Using a reverse image, we found that the photo was posted on X on January 27 by an account called Megatron with the caption, “BREAKING:⚡ 🇬🇧 Pictures have emerged of the British oil ship Marlin Luanda, which was hit by a Houthi missile, burning.”

We were able to confirm that the photo showed the Marlin Luanda by comparing features on a video of the burning ship shared by the Indian Navy and matching a pole and a crane visible in the viral image. This image was also used in news reports by Hindustan Times and News18 Hindi on the Houthi attack on Marlin Luanda.

Comparison of the image posted by Megatron on X and an image of the burning Marlin Luanda shared by the Indian Navy. (Source: X/Megatron, X/Indian Navy/Modified by Logically Facts)

The verdict

We have marked the claim as false, as only one of the photos is from the attack on the British ship, and all the other visuals in the video are old and unrelated. Further, it has been made to look like a news video on the attack on the Marlin Luanda, which it is not.

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