The Red Sea Security Risks and the Impact on Shipping Companies

The recent attack on the Marlin Luanda, a tanker attacked by Yemen’s Houthi group, has prompted commodities trader Trafigura to assess the security risks of further voyages in the Red Sea. This attack, along with the escalating conflict between the Houthi group and Israel, has raised concerns among shipping companies and forced them to reevaluate their routes and security measures. This article analyzes the impact of the Red Sea security risks on shipping companies and explores the measures taken to mitigate these risks.

In response to the Houthi attacks, some shipping companies have suspended transits through the Red Sea. Instead, they have opted for longer and costlier journeys around Africa to avoid being attacked. Container vessels moving through the Red Sea have been the primary target of the Houthi group, whereas fuel tankers have continued to use the route. Notably, QatarEnergy, the world’s second-largest exporter of liquefied natural gas, has recently stopped sending tankers via the Red Sea due to security concerns.

Trafigura, in partnership with shipowners and customers, continues to assess the risks involved in voyages through the Red Sea. The safety and security of the crew are of paramount importance in their decision-making process. This incident has led Trafigura to suspend any further voyages in the Gulf of Aden until the security risks have been thoroughly evaluated. Other companies are likely to follow suit and prioritize the safety of their crews and vessels.

The Marlin Luanda Incident

The Marlin Luanda, a Marshall Islands-flagged tanker, was attacked by a Houthi anti-ship missile, resulting in a fire in one cargo tank. The crew successfully battled the blaze, and with the assistance of Indian, U.S., and French navy vessels, the fire was eventually extinguished. All crew members are safe, and the vessel is now heading towards a safe harbor. The prompt response and cooperation between different navies demonstrate the international effort to ensure the safety of maritime transport in the region.

International Assistance

The U.S. Navy ship USS Carney, along with other coalition ships, provided immediate assistance to the Marlin Luanda. India’s navy also deployed INS Visakhapatnam to aid the distressed tanker. This international response highlights the collaborative efforts to combat the security risks in the Red Sea. However, it also underscores the gravity of the situation and the need for increased security measures to protect merchant vessels and navy ships in the region.

Retaliatory Strikes and Escalating Tensions

In response to the Houthi attacks, the U.S. and British forces have conducted retaliatory strikes against Houthi targets across Yemen. These strikes aim to neutralize the Houthi forces and protect merchant vessels from further attacks. The recent destruction of a Houthi anti-ship missile by the U.S. military illustrates the determination to prevent any imminent threats to maritime traffic in the Red Sea. However, these strikes have also escalated tensions and led to allegations of strikes on Yemen’s main oil export terminal.

The security risks in the Red Sea have significantly impacted shipping companies. The suspension of transits and the longer alternative routes highlight the concerns surrounding the safety of vessels and crew members. Trafigura’s assessment of security risks and the international assistance provided to the Marlin Luanda demonstrate the seriousness with which these risks are being addressed. However, the retaliatory strikes and escalating tensions indicate the complexity of the situation and the challenges faced in maintaining the security of maritime transport in the region. As the conflict continues, shipping companies must carefully evaluate the risks involved in voyages through the Red Sea and prioritize the safety of their crews and vessels.


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