NewsMaersk delays Red Sea transit after double attack, as Middle East strife threatens global shipping

Maersk delays Red Sea transit after double attack, as Middle East strife threatens global shipping

Maersk Container Ship
Maersk Container Ship
Images source: © Getty Images | Bloomberg

3:26 PM EST, December 31, 2023

An attack near Yemen occurred on the Maersk Hangzhou vessel while in transit from Singapore to Port Suez, Egypt, reports Bloomberg. The first incident happened Saturday evening when an unidentified object struck the ship. Later, four boats initiated a second attack, firing at the ship and attempting to board it.

US suspects another Houthi attack

The United States has asserted that Houthi fighters, supported by Iran, conducted the attacks. In retaliation, two ballistic missiles launched by the rebels on the same Saturday were intercepted.

During an assault on Sunday, US Navy helicopters were fired upon. They retaliated, sinking three out of the four hostile boats. According to the US Central Command, the combatants were neutralized.

Previous Houthi attacks have been reported. The Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) announced an attack on its vessel on a Tuesday. Reuters noted that the fighters launched rockets at this ship, but it remains unclear whether the boat was hit.

Transport heavyweight adjusts plans

Maersk, one of the largest transport companies worldwide, has recently updated its Red Sea transit plans. The company redirected its vessels further south. It confirmed that the Maersk Hangzhou crew is safe and the ship has resumed its northern journey.

"Maersk is actively working to ascertain the specific circumstances of the incident and is engaging closely with authorities to evaluate the security situation in the region," reads a statement delivered to Bloomberg.

The Red Sea has become a hotbed of international conflict. Attacks on commercial vessels are increasing in retaliation to Israel's bombing of Gaza. On December 16th, a Royal Navy destroyer downed a drone, and a US Navy destroyer intercepted 14 similar aircraft.

Will transport become compromised by the Middle East conflict? Half of the container vessels regularly using the Suez Canal have already switched to a significantly longer route to avoid the Red Sea, reports Bloomberg. This move arises from attacks by Yemeni Houthi fighters. Consequently, concerns about potential price hikes in Europe and Poland are growing.

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