The tanker Central Park is safe, according to US officials (Associated Press)

A U.S. Navy ship responded to a distress call from the chemical tanker Central Park and made sure it was safe and free, two U.S. officials said.

One official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the Mason helped ensure the tanker's safety.

Earlier, a US defense official said it was believed that unidentified gunmen seized the oil tanker "Central Park" in the Gulf of Aden on Sunday.

LSEG data showed the small tanker was operated by Israeli-owned Zodiac Maritime Limited, an international ship management company based in London.

The maritime security company "Embry" announced that an unspecified party boarded an oil tanker belonging to a British company "linked to Israel" (the Israeli Ofer family), near the Yemeni coast near Aden, and the company likely that the incident was related to political factors.

Shipping data showed the exit of the oil tanker "Central Park" from the Moroccan port of Safi on November 12, without announcing its final destination.

The data also showed that the ship turned off its tracking devices around one o'clock in the afternoon Mecca time (ten GMT), after passing through the Gulf of Suez in the Red Sea on November 22, and did not appear again.

The Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper quoted Zodiac as saying that the ship "hijacked off Yemen is carrying a cargo of phosphoric acid," noting that a crisis management team has been appointed at its headquarters in London.

The incident comes after the Houthis targeted a ship on Friday and seized an Israeli-linked cargo ship in the southern Red Sea last week.

The Houthis announced that they would target all ships owned or operated by Israeli companies or flying the Israeli flag, "due to the brutal Israeli-American aggression against the Gaza Strip, where daily massacres and genocide."

Weeks after the start of the Israeli aggression on Gaza on the seventh of last October, the Houthis announced the launch of batches of ballistic missiles and drones against targets inside Israel, and the group's leader, Abdul Malik al-Houthi, threatened to target Israeli ships in the Red Sea and Bab al-Mandab.

Source: Al Jazeera + Reuters