Fact Check: Video Does NOT Depict UK Ship Sinking After Being Targeted By Houthis

Fact Check

  • by: Rebaz Majeed
Fact Check: Video Does NOT Depict UK Ship Sinking After Being Targeted By Houthis 2020 Brazil

Does a video on social media depict a U.K. ship in the Red Sea sinking after being targeted by the Houthis? No, that's not true: The video is from 2020, preceding the onset of Houthi attacks on U.K. and U.S. vessels in the Red Sea during the Hamas-Israel conflict that started on October 7, 2023. The footage depicts the intentional sinking of the Stellar Banner, a Very Large Ore Carrier (VLOC), three months after it ran aground with a load of iron ore off the coast of Brazil in 2020.

The claim appeared in a video (archived here) on TikTok by @safwanshaheen0 (archived here) on February 20, 2024. The text overlay (translated from Arabic to English by Lead Stories staff) read:

Footage of the British ship sinking after being targeted by the Houthis

This is what the post looked like on TikTok at the time of writing:

Screenshot 2024-02-20 at 19.53.56.png

(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Tue Feb 20 18:54:10 2024 UTC)

The Houthis (archived here) are an Iranian-backed group active in Yemen known for conducting attacks (archived here) on ships in the Red Sea. They claim (archived here) to be responding to Israel's bombardment of Gaza, following Hamas' attack on Israel on October 7, 2023. At the time of writing, the video was trending on TikTok, as observed in posts here, here and here.

Lead Stories did a Google Lens reverse image search (archived here) using a fragment of the video on February 21, 2024. The results led to a video (archived here) on an Iranian website named SeeVid (archived here) on October 18, 2020. SeeVid did not specify the time and place of the incident in the video. Another Google Lens reverse image search (archived here) using the video fragment on the Iranian website uncovered a video (archived here) published on YouTube by @SUNMOONMARINE (archived here) on June 14, 2020, titled "A giant ship, Stellar Banner, Terrific sinking video near the coast of Brazil."

This is what the video looked like on YouTube at the time of writing:

Screenshot 2024-02-21 at 10.39.07.png

(Source: YouTube screenshot taken on WED Feb 21 09:39:07 2024 UTC)

Another Google search (archived here), using the terms "A giant ship Stellar Banner Terrific sinking video near the coast of Brazil," unveiled a report (archived here) by The Maritime Executive published on June 13, 2020, titled "Video: Giant VLOC Scuttled off Brazil." The report, which included the same video circulating on TikTok, said:

On February 24, the Stellar Banner suffered damage to her bow during her departure from the Vale-operated Ponta da Madeira Maritime Terminal in Maranhão. Her 20 crew members were evacuated safely, according to Vale, and 'the vessel's captain [grounded] the vessel about 100 kilometers off the coast of São Luís" as a precautionary measure. The vessel took on a heavy list after the grounding but did not capsize.

  Rebaz Majeed

Rebaz Majeed is a fact-checker at Lead Stories. He is a multilingual freelance journalist and researcher. He worked for five years as a reporter for Voice of America (VOANews) in Iraq. Currently, he is pursuing his MA in Interdisciplinary Studies of the Middle East at Free Berlin University. Rebaz brings extensive knowledge and expertise to his role at LeadStories.

Read more about or contact Rebaz Majeed

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