Houthi-Led Red Sea Attacks Causing Container Ships To Reroute

Container shipowners are thinking twice before sending their products through the Red Sea amid recent attacks by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in the region.

Shipping data shows a significant decrease in container ships flowing through the Suez Canal, responsible for 12% of international trade.

Clarkson Research Services Ltd. also released data showing an 82% reduction in the gross tonnage of ships arriving at the Gulf of Aden since Dec. 18, 2023, compared to the first half of December 2023.

AP Møller-Maersk, the operator of the world’s second-largest container shipping fleet was one of the latest to avoid sending its ships through the Red Sea, having rerouted them around Africa through the Cape of Good Hope because of the “highly escalated security situation.”

“The attacks we have seen on commercial vessels in the area are alarming and pose a significant threat to the safety and security of seafarers,” AP Møller-Maersk said in a statement. “This decision was taken to ensure the safety of our crews, vessels and customers’ cargo onboard.”

Logistics company Kuehne + Nagel International AG recently reported that at least 100 vessels have been rerouted through the Cape of Good Hope.

Along with AP Møller-Maersk, seven major shipping companies, including Belgian tank owner Euronav and Taiwanese container shipping line Evergreen, stopped sending their vessels through the Red Sea.

Considering the broader route being taken by most container ships, prominent retailing companies, such as IKEA, have suffered from supply chain issues.

“What we can share for now is that the situation in the Suez Canal will result in delays and may cause availability constraints for certain IKEA products,” a spokesman for the retailing company said.

“This is our main priority. In the meantime, we are evaluating other supply options to secure the availability of our products, and we continue to monitor the situation closely going forward,” the spokesman added.

The U.S. and its allies in the North American Treaty Organization (NATO) have begun protecting commercial shipping amid the attacks in the Red Sea.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced an agreement to deploy a naval task force to the Red Sea. The Pentagon said Austin “reiterated that the international community is faced with an unprecedented global challenge that demands collective action.”