Video does not show capture of Israeli submarine in Red Sea

3 January 2024
What was claimed

Footage shows Yemen capturing an Israeli submarine passing through the Red Sea after being warned not to use the trade waterway.

Our verdict

This is false. The video is from June 2019 and shows the seizure by the US Coast Guard of a self-propelled semi-submersible vessel in the Eastern Pacific Ocean which is suspected of being used to smuggle drugs.

A video shared more than 6,000 times on Facebook falsely claims to show the capture of an Israeli submarine by “Yemen” in the Red Sea.

The footage, which has also been shared on platforms such as TikTok and Instagram, shows men in camouflage uniform sailing in a boat alongside a small underwater vessel, before eventually boarding it and opening the hatch.

A caption with the video states: “Yemen capture Israel submarine passing through red sea [sic]… they give them warning not to use this way”.

But the footage does not show the capture of an Israeli submarine and is unconnected to the current Israel-Gaza conflict.

The video dates back to 18 June 2019

It was released by the US Coast Guard to show the moment when a Cutter-type vessel—the Munro—intercepted a suspected drug smuggling vessel in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.  

The Coast Guard said that crew members boarded a “self-propelled semi-submersible” (SPSS) vessel, believed to be used for drug smuggling, while operating in international waters.

At one point in the video a man can be heard speaking in English, saying: “It’s going to be hard to get on.” A US flag can also be seen flying from the roof of the boat. 

The US Naval Institute reported that the Munro returned from its patrol in July 2019 with 39,000 pounds of cocaine seized from smugglers in the Pacific Ocean.

While this video does not show what it claims to, it comes amid real attacks on commercial ships in the Red Sea, an important route for world trade.

The Houthi rebel group in Yemen—not the UN-recognised Yemeni government—has carried out a number of attacks to disrupt shipping operations in opposition to the Israeli government since November 2023. 

We have checked dozens of photos and videos in relation to the recent conflict in Israel and Gaza, many of which are miscaptioned, out of context or depict real events in other places, including images falsely claiming to show an attack on an Israeli boat in the Red Sea. 

It is important to consider whether something shows what it claims before sharing it—you can read more about this in our guide to fact checking misleading videos relating to the Israel-Gaza conflict.

Image courtesy of NASA Johnson

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