Maersk tells its container ships to pause Red Sea voyages

Container shipping giant A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S instructed any ships heading for the southern entrance of the Red Sea to halt their voyages following an attack on one of its vessels and spiraling risks to the merchant fleet in the area posed by Houthi militants.

“Following the near-miss incident involving Maersk Gibraltar yesterday and yet another attack on a container vessel today, we have instructed all Maersk vessels in the area bound to pass through the Bab al-Mandab Strait to pause their journey until further notice,” Maersk said in a statement.

Houthi militants have been attacking merchant shipping in the Red Sea — especially vessels that they say are connected to Israel — in response to the war in Gaza. Bab al-Mandab is a narrow stretch of water that links the Indian Ocean to the Red Sea and, ultimately, to Egypt’s Suez Canal further north.

READ: Houthis Claim Third Red Sea Ship Attack as Trade Risks Rise

The attacks appear to have escalated in the past several days with the ships’ connections to Israel appearing to be less direct. That suggests risks are widening. At least three container ships have been attacked or disrupted near Yemen in the past day or so.

“We are deeply concerned about the highly escalated security situation in the southern Red Sea and Gulf of Aden,” Maersk said. “The recent attacks on commercial vessels in the area are alarming and pose a significant threat to the safety and security of seafarers.”The notice didn’t say what would happen next with its fleet. The company deals with the world’s largest retailers. At the same time it said its No. 1 priority is to keep its crews safe.“We are committed to best possibly ensuring the stability of our customers’ supply chains, and we are working closely with all our logistics teams and are taking steps to minimize impacts to customers. ”

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