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Star Bulk to Avoid Red Sea After Attacks on its Ships

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February 14, 2024

LONDON, Feb 14 (Reuters) – Greece-headquartered Star Bulk will halt sailings through the Red Sea after Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthis attacked two of its ships in recent days, the group’s CEO said.

The Houthis have targeted commercial vessels with drones and missiles in the Red Sea since mid-November in what they describe as acts of solidarity with Palestinians against Israel in the Gaza war.

“Going forward, we will not be passing the Suez Canal any more because we are obviously a target of the Houthis – being a public company registered in the U.S.,” Star Bulk CEO Petros Pappas told a Feb. 13 earnings call.

Pappas said they had asked the charterers of two separate vessels if they could avoid going through the Suez Canal, which leads into the Red Sea.

“We got advice that we had to follow the charter party and send the vessels through Suez,” Pappas said, adding that the first vessel was attacked three times.

“While that was happening, the second vessel was already passing Suez so we could not divert it and that had to continue and was attacked,” he said.

The Houthis on Feb. 6 fired three missiles at the Star Nasia, managed by Nasdaq-listed Star Bulk, which reported minor damage and no injuries, the U.S. military’s Central Command (Centcom) said, adding that a U.S. navy ship shot down one of the projectiles.

On Feb. 12, the Houthis fired two missiles at the Star Bulk managed Star Iris which was sailing to Iran with a cargo of corn from Brazil – Centcom and shipping analysts said – the first time an Iran-bound vessel had been targeted.

Houthi militants in Yemen, who control the country’s most populous regions, have targeted vessels with commercial ties to the United States, Britain and Israel, shipping and insurance sources say.

Pappas said war risk insurance rates had risen in recent days.

“We won’t be going through the Red Sea, so it does not apply any more. For whoever it does, I suppose the more vessels that are hit, the higher the insurance rates that will be asked by the insurer.”

(Reporting by Jonathan Saul; editing by Barbara Lewis)

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2024.

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