More and more ships avoid the Red Sea, sail around Africa

Henry

The shipping giant Maersk said on Friday that it will divert all vessels around Africa in the “foreseeable future” instead of using the Red Sea and Suez Canal. This follows after its merchant ships have been attacked 25 times in the past two months.

The Danish company referred to the highly volatile situation and said that the security risk remains high.

“We have therefore decided that all Maersk vessels transported through the Red Sea or Bay of Aden will be diverted south around the Cape of Good Hope in the foreseeable future,” the company said in a statement.

A shipping cargo that was transported from Singapore to Port Suez in Egypt was hit by a missile in the Bab al-Mandab strait on Sunday.

Four ships – operated by Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels – then opened fire on the vessel in an attempt to intercept the vessel.

The US military says naval helicopters have sunk three of the ships. However, the fourth ship managed to escape.

Since November 18, a total of 25 commercial vessels operating in the southern Red Sea and Gulf of Aden have been attacked.

On Wednesday, 12 nations – led by the US – jointly called on Yemen’s Houthi rebels for an “immediate end to these illegal attacks” while also warning of “consequences”.

According to the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), the Red Sea is an “essential waterway” with 12% of world trade passing through it. The waterway connects the Mediterranean Sea with the Indian Ocean, and thus also Europe with Asia.

About 20,000 ships pass through the Suez Canal every year.

The Danish company – like other global shipping giants – stopped the passage of its vessels through the route in mid-December. They announced that it would resume on December 24th, only to suspend it again on December 31st, one week later.