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Thursday, June 20, 2024

Shipping Firms Take First Steps Toward Red Sea Return

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

December 27, 2023

© Mariusz / Adobe Stock

© Mariusz / Adobe Stock

France's CMA CGM is increasing the number of vessels travelling through the Suez Canal, it said on Tuesday, joining Maersk in returning to the area after U.S.-led efforts to prevent attacks.

The world's top shipping companies, including Maersk and Hapag-Lloyd, stopped using Red Sea routes after Yemen's Houthi militant group began targeting vessels this month, disrupting global trade through the Suez Canal.

Instead they have rerouted via southern Africa, a longer and more expensive journey. The canal is the quickest sea route between Asia and Europe.

Shipping firms are now reviewing whether it is safe to return after the United States announced a multinational maritime security initiative in the Red Sea in response to attacks on vessels by Yemen's Houthis.

CMA CGM has undertaken "an in-depth evaluation of the security landscape", it said in a statement.

"We are currently devising plans for the gradual increase in the number of vessels transiting through the Suez Canal. We are monitoring the situation constantly and we stand ready to promptly reassess and adjust our plans as needed."

German container shipping group Hapag-Lloyd will decide on Wednesday whether to resume journeys through the Red Sea, a spokesperson said.

"We will decide tomorrow how we will proceed," a Hapag-Lloyd spokesperson said on Tuesday, declining to comment further.

The company had said last week it would redirect 25 ships by the end of the year to avoid the area.

Danish-based Maersk had said on Sunday that it was preparing to resume shipping operations in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, citing deployment of the U.S.-led military operation designed to ensure the safety of commerce in the area.

Maersk did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Tuesday about when it would return vessels to the Suez Canal and what assistance it had received from the U.S.-led maritime force.

In a notice posted on its website on Tuesday, CMA CGM listed 28 of its vessels as being re-routed around the Cape of Good Hope, compared with 22 in a previous list published last Thursday.

CMA CGM is among container lines to have introduced surcharges due to the re-routing of vessels, adding to rising costs for sea transport since the Houthis started targeting vessels.

Mediterranean Shipping Co. said container ship United VIII was attacked while transiting the Red Sea on Tuesday. The Houthis also on Tuesday claimed to have fired missiles at the vessel, without saying it was struck.

Two explosions in the Red Sea were reported by a vessel sailing off the coast of Yemen on Tuesday, shortly after two unmanned aircraft were sighted, a British maritime authority said.

The British maritime authority said the vessel was in contact with coalition forces and that reports said the crew was safe and the vessel was continuing its voyage.


(Reuters - Reporting by Tom Sims; Additional reporting by Louise Rasmussen and Gus Trompiz; Writing by Josephine Mason and Matt Scuffham; Editing by Angus MacSwan, David Goodman and Nick Macfie)