Fearing Further Attacks the Big Four of Shipping Pause Red Sea Operations

Fearing Further Attacks the Big Four of Shipping Pause Red Sea Operations

Maersk, MSC, CMA CGM and Hapag-Lloyd have all announced pausing of their vessels

Meanwhile, the big four shipping lines MSC, Maersk, CMA CGM and Hapag-Lloyd have all announced that they are pausing their vessels before entering into the Red Sea until further notice. Rerouting via South Africa's Cape of Good Hope is also being considered.

Missile attacks by Yemen's Houthis on cargo ships entering the Red Sea continued yesterday with the former announcing that it had attacked the Norwegian-owned Swan Atlantic and the MSC Clara using naval drones to show solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza.

No injuries were reported from either vessel.

Meanwhile, Bahrain, Canada, France, Italy, the Seychelles and the United Kingdom, among others have joined the 10-nation multinational security initiative even as US and UK navies have reportedly shot down several drones flying over these troubled waters.

Following a missile attack on its ship, reportedly carried out by Yemen's Houthis last Friday, MSC, the world's biggest shipping line, has suspended all operations along the Red Sea/Suez Canal route. All crew are safe and the vessel itself has been lightly damaged by fire.

A customer advisory issued by MSC stated: "On 15 December 2023 the container ship MSC PALATIUM III was attacked at approximately 09.37 UTC while transiting the Red Sea under sub charter to Messina Line.

"All crew are safe with no reported injuries, meanwhile the vessel suffered limited fire damage and has been taken out of service.

"Due to this incident and to protect the lives and safety of our seafarers, until the Red Sea passage is safe, MSC ships will not transit the Suez Canal Eastbound and Westbound. Already now, some services will be rerouted to go via the Cape of Good Hope instead.

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"This disruption will impact the sailing schedules by several days of vessels booked for Suez transit. We ask for your understanding under these serious circumstances."

Meanwhile, the world second biggest shipping line Maersk has also issued a statement that it will eschew the Suez Canal route and instead take its ships around the Cape of Good Hope.

In a statement issued on December 15 the company said: ""Following the near-miss incident involving Maersk Gibraltar yesterday and yet another attack on a container vessel today, we have instructed all Maersk vessels in the area bound to pass through the Bab al-Mandab Strait to pause their journey until further notice."

Maersk Gibraltar was travelling from Salalah, Oman, to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The crew and vessel were reported safe.

A "deeply concerned" CMA-CGM said in a statement: "We have been taking over the past days increasing prevention  measures to ensure the safety of our vessels and their crews navigating these waters. The situation is further deteriorating and concern of safety is increasing.

"As such we have decided to instruct all CMA CGM containerships in the area that are scheduled to pass through the Red Sea to reach safe areas and pause their journey in safe waters with immediate effect until further notice.

"CMA CGM is taking all necessary steps to preserve its transportation services for its customers."

Hapag-Lloyd, that accounts for about 7% of the world container shipping fleet, has paused all its traffic across the Red Sea and will decide further action today.

According to other latest reports, Evergreen's Ever Acme currently located in the East Mediterranean being redirected away from Suez to take the long detour.

At the same time, Evergreen and OOCL have announced that they are halting all bookings to and from Israel.

With many of the world's biggest liners avoiding the Suez Canal the Egyptian government is likely to take a major financial hit in the coming days.

The longer route via South Africa's Cape of Good Hope will add 12 to 14 days of travel for the ships with liners also incurring greater fuel costs due to the longer route.

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Transport and Logistics ME