Dec 28, 2023 - World

Maersk schedules more than 50 ships to travel via Suez Canal

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

Maersk is sending more than 50 vessels via the Suez Canal in the coming days and weeks despite earlier postponing operations due to attacks by Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi rebels, the Danish shipping giant announced.

Why it matters: The schedule Maersk released Wednesday suggests confidence in the ability of the new U.S.-led international maritime security force to protect vessels passing through the area.

Catch up quick: In response to the Israel-Hamas war, Houthis began attacking ships in the Red Sea entering or leaving the Suez Canal, forcing global shipping giants to reroute their vessels and disrupting international shipping.

  • Earlier this month, the U.S. expanded a maritime security initiative, called Operation Prosperity Guardian, in response to the attacks.
  • Maersk announced Sunday that it would resume shipping through the Red Sea.
  • The company acknowledged that while the overall risk wasn't completely eliminated, it noted that OPG had been "deployed to allow maritime commerce to pass" through the region.

State of play: While it's not clear when the first ship will pass through the Red Sea, the company noted the schedule was "subject to change based on specific contingency plans that may be formed over the coming days."

  • Maersk told Axios it could not speak to the exact timing or location of its vessels or the specific security measures it has in place due to security concerns.
  • Other Maersk vessels are continuing to be diverted via Africa's Cape of Good Hope.

Worth noting: The Houthi rebels have vowed to continue their attacks despite the expanded U.S.-led security force.

  • On Tuesday, U.S. forces in the region destroyed a swarm of drones and missiles fired by the Houthis during an hours-long attack in the Red Sea.

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