NewsGlobal shipping giants halt transit through Suez Canal following Yemeni attacks

Global shipping giants halt transit through Suez Canal following Yemeni attacks

The largest container companies suspend transport through the Red Sea.
The largest container companies suspend transport through the Red Sea.
Images source: © Licensor | 2023 Anadolu Agency

1:41 PM EST, December 18, 2023

The biggest container shipping companies globally have announced they're ceasing and suspending all operations through the Red Sea - as reported by the portal,

Key companies suspend navigation through the Red Sea

The largest international shipping line globally, MSC, just announced that its vessels wouldn't transit through the Suez Canal "until the passage of the Red Sea is secure". The company recalls that on Saturday, December 15, the container ship MSC Palatium III was attacked by Yemeni militants.

"The entire crew is safe, no casualties were reported, but the ship sustained minor fire damage and has been withdrawn from operation" - according to the company's statement.

Some services will now be rerouted through the Cape of Good Hope. This disturbance will disrupt travel schedules and delay them by several days - explains MSC.

Maersk took similar actions on Thursday, calling for "political measures that would quickly de-escalate" attacks in the region. The company also warned that "the current situation endangers the lives of seamen and poses a threat to global trade".

"Following the incident in which (the container ship) Maersk Gibraltar narrowly avoided being hit, we directed all Maersk-owned vessels in the region that were planning to pass through the Bab al-Mandab strait to halt their journey until further notice" - stated the Danish company.

World's leading shipowners halt operations

Comparable decisions were made by the German shipping firm Hapag-Lloyd, French shipping behemoth CMA CGM, and Israeli ZIM. So, what's causing the industry's turmoil?

"Houthi attacks on ships and vessels in the Red Sea have been ongoing since the start of Israel's conflict with Hamas, and on Tuesday the Yemeni group announced that all vessels sailing to Israel would be targeted, warning shipowners against using Israeli ports" - explains the expert.

"If you recall the Suez blockade by a single container ship and the intense debates about the implications for Europe and the world, then all of the world's leading shipowners have just suspended transit through Suez, due to piracy and drone attacks emanating from Yemen" - the expert elaborates.

"It's too premature to gauge the influence this will have on international shipping, but it's worth noting that the situation is evolving rapidly. The Suez Canal is a crucial hub in global logistics. Similar to the incident in March 2021, when the container ship Ever Given ran aground, blockages can trigger a worldwide bottleneck of container ships and cause delays in the shipment of everyday goods across the globe" - as noted in a recent analysis from the shipowner firm Flexport.

Debilitating fear

We recall that a few days ago, Houthis attacked Ardmore Encounter as it sailed through the Bab Al-Mandab straits in the Red Sea, heading towards the Suez Canal. Al-Jazeera Television highlighted that this was the first attack by Houthis on a ship carrying fuel cargo - likely for Western Europe - directed to the Suez Canal.

The tanker was first fired upon from small boats, followed by rocket launches towards it.

On Tuesday, following a similar attack on the Norwegian tanker Strinda in the Red Sea, the Pentagon warned that Houthi attacks on ships are hazardous and necessitate an international response.

The same day, the management of the Port of Ashdod, Israel's biggest cargo port, warned that Houthi attacks on vessels and ships in the region pose a significant threat to international commerce.

The Houthis announced that attacks would persist until Israel ceases its operations in Gaza. Mohamed Ali al-Houthi, the head of the Supreme Revolutionary Committee of the Houthis in Yemen, posted on social media, informing that any ship navigating the Red Sea towards the occupied Palestinian territories would be prevented passage. He added all vessels passing through Yemeni waters should keep their radios on and respond promptly to any attempts by the Houthis to establish communication.

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