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Maersk Halts Red Sea Voyages ‘Until Further Notice’

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 3413
January 2, 2024

Maersk said it will continue pausing transits through the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden until further notice following an attack on one its vessels over the weekend.

No injuries were reported after the M/V Maersk Hangzhou was struck by a missile on Saturday night and hours later was swarmed by four small boats, forcing the ship’s embarked security team to fire on the attackers. Three of the boats were neutralized by a U.S. Navy helicopter that itself was fired upon.

The Maersk Hangzhou was traveling through the Bab el-Mandeb Strait en route from Singapore to Port Suez, Egypt, when the incident took place. The vessel and crew are reported safe. The attack also prompted Maersk to suspend transits for an initial 48 hours while it assessed the situation.

The incident was the latest attack launched by the Iran-back Houthis in Yemen against commercial ships in international waters in the Southern Red Sea.

“An investigation into the incident is ongoing and we will continue to pause all cargo movement through the area while we further assess the constantly evolving situation. In cases where it makes most sense for our customers, vessels will be rerouted and continue their journey around the Cape of Good Hope,” Maersk said in its update.

“We remain committed to minimising the impact on our customers’ supply chains and will continue to keep you updated on the situation,” the update added.

The attack on the Maersk Hangzhou comes after Maersk had decided to resume transits through the region following the establishment of the US-led Operation Prosperity Guardian (OPG) naval coalition, while some other carriers have opted to continue to reroute ships around the Cape of Good Hope due to the ongoing safety concerns.

Maersk originally suspended transits through the Red Sea back on December 15 a day after a near-miss missile attack on its containership Maersk Gibraltar. Maersk’s decision led to other operators also suspending voyages and redirecting ships around the Cape of Good Hope. Since then about half of the containerships that normally transit the region have been rerouted. 

The U.S. Central Command said the attacks on the Maersk Hangzhou marked the 23rd and 24th illegal attacks by the Houthis on international shipping since the November 19 hijacking of the Galaxy Leader car carrier, which continues by be held in Yemeni waters. 

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