THE DEPARTMENT of Migrant Workers (DMW) on Sunday said all 23 Filipino seamen aboard a Panama-flagged oil tanker that was attacked by a drone controlled by Iran-backed Houthi rebels off Yemen’s Red Sea coast at the weekend were safe. 

In a statement, the agency said the ship was only slightly damaged as it was sailing close to the Yemeni port city of Hodeida. “The vessel is continuing on its journey to its next port of call.”

“The DMW is closely coordinating with international maritime authorities, shipping companies and local manning agencies on the status of ships with Filipino seafarers traversing high-risk areas and war-like zones in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden,” it added.

The Houthi rebels shot a single anti-ship missile at the M/T Wind, a Panamanian-flagged and Greek-owned oil tanker on Saturday, causing flooding that knocked out its propulsion and steering, the US Central Command said in an X post on Saturday.

Last month, the DMW stopped the deployment of Filipino seafarers on passenger and cruise ships to the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden amid recent attacks by Houthi rebels.

Under DMW Order No. 2, Filipino seafarers and manning agencies must sign an affirmation letter guaranteeing that vessels do not pass through these areas.

The agency earlier required commercial vessels to register a “significant event” when they sail through the areas after two Filipino seafarers died aboard an Israel-linked bulk carrier after a Houthi missile attack in March.

In November, Houthi rebels seized an Israel-linked cargo ship in the Red Sea and took 17 Filipino seamen hostage. Houthi military spokesman Yahya Saree had said the seizure was in response to “heinous acts” against Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank. — John Victor D. Ordoñez