Maersk extends Red Sea shipping pause indefinitely amid Houthi attacks


Danish shipping company A.P. Moeller-Maersk said Tuesday it is pausing all transits through the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden until further notice, following an incident with one of its vessels Saturday, as Houthi attacks on shipping vessels in the region push major companies to reroute to avoid supply chain issues.
A view of a ship with containers on top at Chittagong Port.

Maersk said it is pausing operations in the Red Sea after one of its vessels was attacked Saturday. (Photo by Md Manik/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Key Facts

Maersk said an investigation into an attack on its vessel, Maersk Hangzhou, on Saturday is ongoing, and the company is continuing to pause all cargo movement “while we further assess the constantly evolving situation.”

The Maersk Hangzhou “was hit by an unknown object” Saturday after passing through the Bab al-Mandab Strait from Singapore to Port Suez in Egypt, Maersk said, adding that four boats approached the vessel after the initial attack and opened fire, but the vessel’s security team was able to keep the attackers from boarding the vessel.

Helicopters from U.S. Navy vessels in the Red Sea responded to fire coming from the four Houthi-controlled boats, and sank three of them, killing the crew members.

The company said vessels are being rerouted around South Africa’s Cape of Good Hope in some cases that make “most sense for our customers,” adding that it is “committed to minimising the impact on our customers’ supply chains.”

German shipping giant Hapag-Lloyd also said Tuesday it is avoiding the Suez Canal and Red Sea, and has rerouted its ships around the Cape of Good Hope until Jan. 9, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Key Background

Since the beginning of the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas over two months ago, the Houthis—an Iran-backed Shi’ite rebel group in Yemen aligned with Hamas—have launched attacks against U.S. Navy ships, commercial shipping vessels and oil tankers passing through the Red Sea, forcing companies to pause and reroute ships in the region. Last month, the Pentagon announced it was leading a multinational global security force, Operation Prosperity Guardian, to protect and defend ships in the Red Sea amid increasing attacks and concerns over supply chain issues. After the deployment of the U.S.-led naval force, Maersk said it would resume using the Suez Canal for shipments between Asia and Europe as of Dec. 24, before pausing again on Dec. 31 after the latest attack.


The price of oil increased Tuesday after an Iran-owned warship entered the Red Sea in response to the U.S. sinking the three Houthi boats after Saturday’s attack on the Maersk Hangzhou.

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