Shipping giants Maersk and Hapag-Lloyd have suspended their vessels from entering the southern entrance of the Red Sea due to recent attacks. Maersk’s decision follows a near-miss incident involving the Maersk Gibraltar with another attack on a container vessel on Friday. Maersk directed all vessels in the area bound for the Bab el-Mandeb Strait to pause journeys.
Hapag-Lloyd also revealed that some ships were asked to drift outside the strait. Recent attacks in the region, potentially by Yemen’s Houthi rebel forces, prompted increased risk for cargo movements, leading to higher costs and a reevaluation of security measures. At least eight ships have been attacked in recent weeks in the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, prompting calls for a multinational naval force in the Red Sea to protect commercial vessels.
The International Chamber of Shipping emphasized the importance of the Red Sea, which currently facilitates 12% of global trade between Europe and Asia. With the Panama Canal facing unprecedented drought conditions that forced it to reduce the number of passes available daily and lower the acceptable weight for ships, issues with the Suez Canal could create huge delays and force ships to circumnavigate the Cape of Good Hope.
While delays haven’t reached peak disruption, the domino effect of ocean schedules, which rely on port calls on certain days of the week, will be upended, putting vessels out of place. This will further hit equipment and capacity, especially as reduced sailings have been deployed to buoy rates. As always, TOC Logistics recommends you contact a representative to determine how this impacts your cargo and what actions you can take to mitigate delays. As your trusted and strategic partner, we’ll monitor the situation closely and advise you as we learn more.