Dec 24, 2023 - Business

Maersk to restart Red Sea shipping as U.S.-led security force deploys

The Maersk Sentosa container ship sails southbound to exit the Suez Canal in Suez, Egypt, on Thursday, Dec. 21. Photo: Stringer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Maersk announced plans Sunday to resume shipments through the Red Sea after suspending operations earlier this month due to missile and drone attacks on vessels in the region.

Why it matters: Maersk was one of several global shipping giants to reroute vessels away from the key commercial route due to the Iran-backed Houthi rebels' attacks from Yemen, but the firm cited the deployment of a U.S.-led multinational maritime security force as the reason why it had decided to return.

Yes, but: The shipping and logistics company noted in a customer advisory that "the overall risk in the area is not eliminated" and it could again "initiate diversion plans" if there are further safety concerns.

The big picture: The Houthis began attacking merchant ships before or after they moved through the Suez Canal in October in response to the Israel-Hamas war.

  • U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced last week the launch of Operation Prosperity Guardian in response to the attacks, which Pentagon officials said "will serve the highway patrol in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden to respond to and assist as necessary commercial vessels that are transiting this vital international waterway."
  • U.S. Central Command said in a statement Saturday that an American Navy destroyer had shot down four drones in Houthi-controlled areas in Yemen patrolling in the southern Red Sea as part of OPG.

What they're saying: Maersk said in its advisory that as of Sunday it had "received confirmation" that the OPG had been "deployed to allow maritime commerce to pass" through the region.

  • "This is most welcome news for the entire industry and indeed the functionality of global trade," the company said.
  • "With the OPG initiative in operation, we are preparing to allow for vessels to resume transit through the Red Sea both eastbound and westbound," it added.
  • "We are currently working on plans for the first vessels to make the transit and for this to happen as soon as operationally possible. While doing so, ensuring the safety of our employees is of the utmost importance and our number one priority in handling the challenging situation in the Red Sea/Gulf of Aden area."

Go deeper... Mapped: Houthi shipping vessel attacks around the Red Sea

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