Welcome to the Inchcape Red Sea Situation daily bulletin relating to the situation in the Red Sea and Suez Canal for Thursday, the 1st of February.
On Wednesday, the 31st of Jan 24, US Centcom reported on X (formerly Twitter), that at approximately 20:30 (Sanaa time), Iranian-backed Houthi militants fired one anti-ship ballistic missile from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen toward the Gulf of Aden. The missile was successfully shot down by the USS Carney (DDG 64). At 21:10, the USS Carney engaged and shot down three Iranian UAVs in its vicinity. There were no injuries or damage reported.
On Tuesday, the 30th of Jan 24, UK MTO reported on X (formerly Twitter) that the Maritime Security Horn of Africa (MSCHOA) reports that two pirate action groups are likely to be operating in the Indian Ocean. The first 600NM east-southeast of Socotra, Yemen. The second in an area of 0034N 06129E. Both pirate action groups could include a mothership and a number of small craft. Vessels are advised to transit with caution and report any suspicious activity to UKMTO.
Suez Canal Transits
The trend continues to decline, with 34 transits yesterday, January 31, 2024, and an average of 43 transits per day in January.
Risks impacting global shipping in 2024
Robert Peters, Associate Director of Risk Analytics at maritime security risk management specialist Ambrey, and Ian Wilkinson, Vice President of sales excellence at Inchcape Shipping Services, survey the key security threats that emerged in 2023 and how they might develop in the next 12 months.
Catch up on the recent Global Shipping Report 2024 Webinar, where Robert Peters and Ian Wilkinson delve into two crucial topics: global trends in risk and issues impacting shipping. Gain expert insights into the security incidents of 2023 and the outlook for 2024, focusing on key regions such as West Africa, Yemen, Gaza, Somalia, the Singapore Strait, and Sudan.
Participants of the webinar had these questions in follow-up to the webinar:
Q: Do you foresee any risks regarding Egypt and the Suez Canal?
A: There is not assessed to be an imminent threat. The Egyptians have acted as a mediator in the Israel-Hamas conflict. The Egyptians have also not joined statements in support of US and UK strikes on Houthi military targets or even participated in Operation Prosperity Guardian. Any hostile act by the Houthis in Egyptian territorial waters or the Suez Canal would be a mistake and a grave escalation for the region, and any decision to do so would likely not be taken lightly.
Q: How is the Houthi situation impacting India? Is there any chance Houthis will stop with a situation calming down in the ISR-Gaza conflict?
A: Indian seafarers are at significant risk given that Indian nationals crew many Israel, American, and British-affiliated ships. The Indian economy is dependent upon the free flow of trade through the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. The Indian Government’s reaction has been impressive. They have deployed significant naval capability into the region. Two particular cases come immediately to mind: the Indian Navy freeing crew from Somali pirates and Indian Navy personnel firefighting onboard a vessel struck by a missile and still in range. Their actions have been brave and selfless.
The Houthis are anti-Zionist. They did not abide by the ceasefire in November 2023. It is assessed likely that they will continue to threaten Israel-owned shipping, similar to Iran. It is difficult to see how the US and UK can drawback whilst this threat remains active. Further military, financial, and diplomatic pressure is expected.
Q: Is it safe for commercial ships to cross Bab Al Mandab with naval forces escort? Additionally, do you believe that Operation Prosperity Guardian will succeed in completely preventing Houthi attacks?
A: Naval escorts are assessed to mitigate risk but not completely remove it. An attempted US naval accompaniment was turned around in January 2024 due to the risk. Operation Prosperity Guardian defends merchant shipping and responds to attacks. It has not been able to stop every attack but has made a significant contribution to upholding freedom of navigation. The scope has also allowed a broader group of states to make this contribution, which has a dual military and diplomatic effect in saying to the Houthis that targeting civilian shipping is unacceptable.
Q: Do you see either the option that Armed guards shall board outside the JWLA or that the JWC will again enhance the listed area to what it was in 2015? Speaking of Piracy in the IO.
A: Yes, in order to provide appropriate and proportionate levels of armed security support in the region, armed guard embarkation locations should be reconsidered. The Listed Area does not accurately reflect the extent of the current threats.
Algeciras and Gibraltar
Algeciras and Gibraltar are showing major transits of vessels arriving and departing. Algeciras is very busy, with 42 vessels at berth and 66 in port. A further 19 are expected in the next 24 hours. The current turnaround is 20:36 hours for Container vessels and 23:22 hours for tankers.
Similarly, Gibraltar is also busy with vessels at 16 of the 17th available berths and 35 vessels in port. 24 vessels are arriving in the next 12 hours, and 22 departed in the last 24 hours.
Port Louis is showing high activity, but it still has capacity with 9 vessels at the 27 available berths. A further 2 are expected in the next 24 hours. Port Louis offers Bunkering at OPL, therefore making it a favourable bunkering location for vessels transiting the Cape of Good Hope.
How can Inchcape Shipping Services help?
As mentioned in previous posts, Inchcape Shipping Services announced investment in Leth Suez Transit Ltd. You can continue to contact firstname.lastname@example.org for immediate assistance or speak to one of our transit team specialists.
In addition to Algeciras and Gibraltar, Inchcape Shipping Services is well established in Africa when considering to divert around the Cape of Good Hope. With 16 port offices and a network of carefully selected and vetted partners, our team of experienced agents offer top-notch support and expertise to vessels when they are in port, covering everything from crew welfare and customs formalities to fuel supply and waste management.
- 24/7 availability with a local Inchcape representative.
- Direct liaison with the vessel on all aspects of the call when required.
- Critical local expertise and liaison with managing local authorities.
- Assist with crew logistics, including transport to and from the airport, accommodation, and medical assistance.
- Coordination and facilitation of bunker supplies, supervision and sampling.
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