Shipping firms react to Houthi attacks in Red Sea


Houthi militants in Yemen have stepped up attacks on vessels in the Red Sea, impacting a shipping route vital to east-west trade.

In response, some shipping companies have instructed vessels to instead sail around southern Africa, a longer and therefore more expensive route.

Below are actions taken by companies (in alphabetical order):


The global logistics group said, opens new tab on Dec. 22 it had rerouted more than 25 vessels around Africa over the previous week, and that number was likely to grow.

“Blank sailings and rate increases are expected to continue across many trades into Q1 of 2024,” it said.


On Feb 2, the French shipping group suspended until further notice all crossings by its vessels of the Bab al-Mandab Strait in and out of the Red Sea.

It had previously said it would reroute a weekly service between Europe and Australia to avoid attacks, and that it expected months of disruption.


The Belgian oil tanker firm said on Dec. 18 it would avoid the Red Sea until further notice.


The Taiwanese container shipping line said on Dec. 18 its vessels on regional services to Red Sea ports would sail to safe waters nearby, while ships scheduled to pass through the Red Sea would be rerouted around Africa. It also temporarily stopped accepting Israeli cargo.


The Norway-based oil tanker group on Dec. 18 said its vessels would avoid the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.


The Norwegian auto carrier said on Dec. 21 its vessels were restricted from passing through the Red Sea.


The Norwegian shipping firm said on Jan. 12 it has halted all ships heading towards or within the Bab al-Mandab Strait.


The German container shipping line said on Jan. 22 it will continue to route its vessels around Africa until further notice.

The company also said it is introducing land corridors from Jebel Ali, Dammam and Jubail to its ocean shuttle service out of Jeddah to mitigate the impact on its business.

CEO Rolf Habben Jansen warned on Jan. 31 the attacks on cargo vessels in the Red Sea are unlikely to cease soon, adding that a political deal and a mission to protect freight vessels might bring a resolution within six months.

The company swung to a wider-than-expected fourth-quarter operating loss due to lower transport volumes following the attacks on ships in the Red Sea.

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The South Korean container shipper said on Dec. 19 it had ordered its ships which would normally use the Suez Canal to reroute around Africa.


The Norwegian auto carrier said on Dec. 20 it would stop sailing via the Red Sea.


The Norway-based fleet operator said on Jan. 16 it would not trade any of its vessels through the Red Sea until the situation improves.


“Even if from today forward the Bab al-Mandab Strait was to become safe and secure for transit, we expect it will take a minimum of two months before vessels could assume normal rotational patterns,” Michael Aldwell, executive VP for sea logistics at the Swiss logistics firm, said on Jan. 12.


The Danish shipping group on Jan. 5 suspended Red Sea traffic “for the foreseeable future”.

On Jan. 18, Maersk said the Red Sea disruptions and winter weather were causing congestion at container terminals, urging customers to pick up their units as soon as possible. It also started offering customers the option to shift some cargo from vessels to air freight at ports in Oman and the UAE.

A day earlier, its CEO said the Red Sea-related disruption to global shipping would likely last at least a few months.

On Jan. 16, Maersk sent two container ships through the Red Sea carrying goods for the U.S. military and government.

On Jan. 25 it suspended Red Sea transits by vessels of Maersk Line, Limited (MLL), its U.S. subsidiary carrying cargo for U.S. government agencies.


Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) said on Dec. 16 its ships would not transit through the Suez Canal.


Japan’s biggest shipper by sales suspended navigation through the Red Sea for all vessels it operates, a spokesperson told Reuters on Jan. 16. It has also instructed vessels near the Red Sea to wait in safe waters and is considering route change.


Ocean Network Express, a joint venture between Japan’s Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha (9107.T), opens new tab, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (9104.T), opens new tab and Nippon Yusen, said on Dec. 19 it would reroute vessels from the Red Sea to the Cape of Good Hope or temporarily pause journeys and move to safe areas.


The Hong Kong-headquartered container group said on Dec. 21 it had instructed its vessels to either divert their route away from the Red Sea or suspend sailing. It also stopped, opens new tab accepting cargo to and from Israel until further notice.


Lidl unit, which transports non-food goods for the discount supermarket chain and goods for third-party customers, said it was sailing around Africa for now.


The Danish oil tanker group said on Jan. 12 it had decided to pause all transits through the southern Red Sea for now.


The Norwegian shipping group said on Dec. 19 it would halt Red Sea transits until further notice.


The Taiwanese container shipping company said on Dec. 18 it would divert ships sailing through the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden via the Cape of Good Hope for the next two weeks.

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