Welcome to the first daily bulletin relating to the situation in the Red Sea and Suez Canal.
Since the 14th of November, Ansar Allah (the ‘Houthis’) have threatened to attack Israel-affiliated merchant shipping. The Bab al-Mandab Strait off the coast of Yemen is a pinch point where the Red Sea meets the Indian Ocean. Around 12% Global Shipping and 30% Container traffic passes through the Strait to and from the Suez Canal. Additionally 1/3rd of global oil passes through region, something else to consider when you also think about the current Panama Canal restrictions. Another factor is the importance of the Straits as a gateway to the Suez Canal which accounts for 5% of Egyptian GDP. The threat to shipping has escalated beyond “Israeli” linked targets to include all major owners / operators. Unlike previous Piracy related events in Red Sea / Gulf of Aden this is a sophisticated military threat and requires a very sophisticated response.
Ambrey, the global maritime risk and security provider (www.ambrey.com), has assessed that the Houthis have broadened their target profile of what constitutes ‘affiliated’ from flag, ownership, operatorship, and management, to include the destination of Israel. However, they have mistakenly targeted vessels that were no longer associated with Israel. As some affiliated merchant shipping diverts from the area, the Houthis are assessed to maintain their broadened scope of potential targets. The insurance industry has responded with markedly higher rates across the board. The risk of collateral damage from debris among the wider shipping community persists when transiting the region. Over last weekend there were several further attacks which have resulted in some European based companies to pause or reroute vessels. There has been an increased military presence in the Red Sea which has led to the interception of many missiles and UAVs, but the presence has been uneven, meaning ship hardening and protection measures remain important to mitigate the associated risks of transiting the area. The US Navy is co-ordinating a multi-national task force called “Operation Prosperity Guardian” with Navy vessels already in the Region and more to follow.
The piracy threat realised offshore Somalia had so far been targeted at Iranian dhows, who were licensed by the incumbent Government of Puntland. However, with the hijacking of the Ruen, a Maltese bulk carrier, on 14th December there is assessed to be a definite criminal and opportunist risk that could extend beyond this affiliation. The criminal actors could take advantage of the erosion in the counter-piracy security architecture as permission to operate in territorial waters has been restricted and there has been a reduction in armed security presence.
Ambrey Daily Incident report:
- DJIBOUTI, 20 DECEMBER
A Singapore-flagged bulk carrier was approached by four skiffs while transiting southbound through the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, approximately 13M west of Dhubab, Yemen.
SITUATIONAL AWARENESS | APPROACH
- YEMEN, 20 DECEMBER
A Liberia-flagged tanker sighted an aerial threat flying above the vessel while transiting eastbound through the Gulf of Aden closing on Point A of the International Recommended Transit Corridor
WAR RISK | SIGHTING
- SOMALIA, 20 DECEMBER
A Malta-flagged bulk carrier was hijacked 380M east of Socotra Island. The crew were taken hostage and the vessel was transferred to Somali territorial waters.
CRIME | EDR
- DJIBOUTI, 20 DECEMBER
A Liberia-flagged tanker sighted an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) flying in the vessel’s vicinity while exiting the Bab el-Mandeb Strait southbound approximately 7M south of Perim Island, Yemen.
WAR RISK | SIGHTING
Suez Canal Transits
The Suez Canal Authority has reported a 15% decline in transits, particularly of container vessels, in recent weeks. For instance, in Week 50, there were 82 container vessel transits, down from 100 just 4 weeks earlier. There has been a slight increase as December has progressed; however, the situation is being closely monitored, and some major shipping companies have decided to avoid the Red Sea and divert vessels around the Cape of Good Hope.
How can Inchcape Shipping Services help?
Inchcape Shipping Services is well established in Africa when considering to divert around the Cape of Good Hope. With 14 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.
Our team are ready to support you in Africa and Mauritius. Please contact us for a prompt PDA on these email addresses:
South Africa: firstname.lastname@example.org