Shipping Lines Reroute as Red Sea Attacks Impact Global Transit

Important Update

Major shipping companies are avoiding the Suez Canal due to increased attacks on cargo ships in the Red Sea by Houthi militants. Companies like MSC and Hapag-Lloyd are rerouting or pausing vessel transits through the canal. CMA CGM and Maersk Line have also instructed their ships to halt transit. Evergreen and OOCL are temporarily suspending cargo shipments to and from Israel. These changes are causing delays and higher costs for shippers, with some shipping lines adding war risk surcharges. As a result, ships are accumulating around the canal. The Suez Canal Authority acknowledges the rerouting of 55 ships since Nov. 19 but emphasizes the canal’s continued importance. The Houthi attacks have raised concerns about the safety of the Red Sea transit, leading to efforts to strengthen maritime forces in the region.

Who is attacking ships in the Red Sea and why?

The Red Sea attackers are the Houthis, rebels backed by Iran, who took over Yemen’s capital in 2014. They’re in a long fight against a coalition led by Saudi Arabia. While they’ve sometimes targeted ships, attacks increased during the Israel-Hamas conflict. Using drones, missiles, and even helicopters, the Houthis attacked ships, including seizing an Israeli-owned one. Now, they threaten any vessel going to or from Israel, urging them to change course closer to their area.

The European Union condemns these attacks, saying they seriously threaten global navigation and break international law.

Why is the Red Sea important?

The Red Sea is crucial for global trade, connecting Asia and Europe through the busy Suez Canal in the north and the Bab el-Mandeb Strait in the south. This waterway is vital for transporting Europe’s energy supplies, including oil and diesel fuel, as well as food products like palm oil and grain. It’s a major route for container ships carrying most of the world’s manufactured goods.