Houthi rebel attacks on Red Sea might force global shipping companies to take the long way around Africa

  • January 9, 2024
  • News

Yemen’s Houthi rebels are attacking cargo ships in the Red Sea. Recently, MT Strinda, an all-Indian crew ship experienced terror in the mid-sea. These attacks have forced the world’s leading shipping companies to either order their ships to avoid the Red Sea or halt wherever they are. Indian ships usually used this trade route to transit to Europe as journey time is shorter. If the ships look at adopting to sail around Africa via the Cape of Good Hope then the journey will be two weeks longer.

Maersk, the Danish shipping company, the world’s largest, and German container line Hapag-Lloyd have postponed journeys through a key Red Sea strait or pause their journey until further notice if they have to pass through the Bab-el Mandeb strait following a string of Houthi drone and missile attacks that are disrupting international commerce. Around 20 Houthi missiles have been shot down by US Naval forces in the last few days.
The one-way trip from the Persian Gulf to Rotterdam port takes nearly 18 days via the Suez and more than 31 days via the Cape of Good Hope.

Peter Sand, Chief Analyst at the Global Shipping Service stated that all ships going the Suez Canal must sail through the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, but the Houthis have made it clear that vessels will be targeted. He said that as of now the Suez Canal will not close, but with the serious impediments and escalations, it cannot be ruled out, even if it is just for a few days. He added that the global supply chain is chaotic right now as the Red Sea is witnessing the Houthis attack and also there are huge delays due to drought and low water levels in Panama Canal.

Global shipping has become a target due to the extended war between Israel and Hamas. Now, some Israeli-linked vessels have already opted for the longer route via Africa which makes the journey three weeks longer. The insurance companies are also charging double for the ships moving through the Red Sea and this new hike has the biggest impact on the shipping companies.

Currently, the shipping companies want a multinational task force to start operating in the Red Sea to deter the Houthis from any further attacks.