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Red Sea Crisis

Vessels still heading into Red Sea war zone

Photo: Adobe Stock container ship passing through Suez canal
Three container ships, one each from MSC, Maersk and CMA CGM, were identified on VesselsValue AIS heading south in the Suez Canal towards the Red Sea danger zone despite the carrier’s saying they had re-routed vessels around the African Cape.

Houthi Group missile and drone attacks on commercial vessels have seen many vessels already diverted, but some ships continue to use the critical Red Sea waterway, which has at its northern extremity the southern entrance to the Suez Canal.

A number of other container ships from Cosco, Wan Hai, MSC, Maersk, and CMA CGM were identified either having already transited the Bab al-Mandeb Strait or heading for the mouth of the Red Sea, which leads into the Gulf of Aden and into the Indian Ocean.

In total in the Red Sea region AIS identifies around 80-90 container vessels having already transited, or about to transit the Red Sea in the near future.

Most of the top ten container carriers have made statements saying that their vessels would avoid the Red Sea/Suez waterways until the security situation was alleviated.

A Maersk spokesman pointed to its statement, when asked about the prudence of sailing via Suez. The statement said: “Having monitored developments closely and retrieved all available intelligence, Maersk has decided that all vessels previously paused and due to sail through the region will now be re-routed around Africa via the Cape of Good Hope for safety reasons.”

Maersk also pointed out that some of its vessels operate under the Maersk Line Limited banner which operates for the US Government and is not part of Maersk Line’s overall offering.

Other carriers contacted by Seatrade Maritime News, including CMA CGM and MSC did not respond.

Meanwhile, the international maritime task force of around 10 countries called Operation Prosperity Guardian, which includes naval forces from Italy, Spain, the UK and the US among others was today joined by Greece which has sent a frigate to bolster the naval coalition.

Greek Defence Minister Nikos Dendias said in a statement today: "The frigate will participate in the multinational operation 'Prosperity Guardian', for the protection of merchant ships, the lives of seafarers, and the global economy,".

In addition, the International Union of Marine Insurers also made a statement on the 19 December condemning the attacks on shipping: “Provision of hull and cargo insurance has become increasingly challenging due to the heightened risk. As insurers, we are continuously assessing the situation to ensure adequate coverage and support for our clients, while also advocating for enhanced safety measures.”