Shipping Companies Pause Red Sea Operations

Shipping Companies Pause Red Sea Operations
December 19, 2023 Hannah Marshallsay

Four of the largest shipping lines announced over the weekend that there will be a pause in transit through the Red Sea until further notice.

Since our last update regarding the impact of geopolitical conflicts in the Red Sea on global shipping, four major shipping companies have announced the suspension of all journeys through the Red Sea due to a series of attacks on commercial vessels by Yemen’s Houthi rebels.

Maersk announced on Friday the suspension of its vessels’ passage through the vital Bab Al Mandeb Strait, while Hapag-Lloyd also confirmed a pause in journeys. Following suit, MSC and CMA CGM made the same decision.

The Bab Al Mandeb Strait, approximately 20 miles wide at the entrance to the Red Sea, serves as a critical route between Asia, Europe, and North America via the Suez Canal, offering a vital passage for global ocean freight, accounting for roughly 30% of yearly global traffic. The temporary pause and potential rerouting of vessels could significantly disrupt global supply chains.

Presently, vessels have been instructed to pause, potentially leading to their diversion around the Cape of Good Hope, particularly those departing Asia and the Indian Subcontinent. If this scenario unfolds, it is estimated that there will be an additional two-week delay in arrival times. 

The shipping companies have not taken these decisions lightly, and have done so to ensure the safety of their crews, vessels, and our cargoes on board. Monitoring the situation remains ongoing, with efforts focused on minimising impacts for customers. 

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