The owner of the hijacked car carrier Galaxy Leader is hopeful that its crew members could soon be released by the Houthis.

Ray Car Carriers’ Galaxy Maritime, the Isle of Man-registered owning company, said in a statement that it is “encouraged” by reports from the Philippines that the release of 25 seafarers held by the Houthis is “imminent”.

The 5,100-ceu vessel (built 2002) was seized by the Yemeni militia on 19 November.

The unspecified reports emerged towards the end of 2023, but there has been no update since then.

The company told TradeWinds it would provide any new information as soon as it was available.

“Owners and ship managers had been hoping to secure the release of the crew members in time for return to their families for the Christmas holiday,” Galaxy Maritime said.

“Despite all efforts and those of all the authorities represented by crew members from Bulgaria, Mexico, Romania, Ukraine and the Philippines, our valued seafarers remain in the hands of the Houthis.”

The owner explained that given the “considerable costs” in repatriation of the crew members, the company is committed to meet these expenses and “support any operational issues involved”.

Soon after the hijacking, the commander of the Yemeni navy, Major General Muhammad Fadl Abdulnabi, addressed the seafarers on the bridge.

Faces blurred

The crew members had their faces blurred in the video.

“Welcome to Yemen. You are our guests here,” Abdulnabi said through an English translator.

“We consider all of the crew as Yemeni people. Anything you want, we will bring it. You can consider Yemen as your own country,” he added.

The ship was seized as a bargaining chip as the Houthis sought to exert pressure on Israel to stop its war in Gaza.

The Houthi leadership has said the release of the vessel and its crew will be discussed when “America and Israel stop killing Palestinians in Gaza and bring in water, medicine and food”.

Ray Car Carriers is ultimately owned by Israel’s Rami Ungar.

The car carrier was moved to the Hodeidah anchorage.