Maersk Says Red Sea Still Too Risky to Justify Return

Danish shipping giant Maersk says it will continue to divert its containerships around the Cape of Good Hope due to the continued risk of Houthi attacks in the Red Sea.

The decision sends a strong signal that Red Sea shipping disruptions will continue indefinitely.

In a statement, Maersk welcomed the establishment of the European Union’s Operation ASPIDES and continued efforts by the US-led Operation Prosperity Guardian naval coalitions, saying it is hopeful that these initiatives will eventually allow for the safe return of regular operations through the Red Sea. However, the risk level in the region is ultimately still too high to justify a return the region.

Maersk’s statement highlighted recent attacks on commercial vessels, including those on the True Confidence and Rubymar. The company said the incidents underscore the “lethal effectiveness” of Houthi missile attacks and contributed to its decision.

While acknowledging that some shipping lines have continued or plan to resume sailing through the Red Sea despite the security risks, Maersk said it believes that sailing via the Cape of Good Hope and around Africa currently offers the most stable supply chain solution for its customers.

“Network changes are complex and take time to implement and we believe we should only implement such changes when they can be sustained over a longer period of time. We continue to believe it is the only way to avoid further disruption under the current circumstances,” the statement said.

“As we have mentioned many times, our utmost priority remains the safety and wellbeing of our crews, the safety of vessels they are sailing on and the safety and integrity of our customers’ cargo we are transporting,” it added.

“We remain hopeful that resuming sailing through the Red Sea will become possible in the near future and we are committed to providing our customers with regular updates on the developments,” the statement concluded.

Maersk suspended Red Sea transits for the “foreseeable future” in early January after one of its ships, the Maersk following a Dec. 30 missile attack and attempted boarding on the Maersk Hangzhou. The incident came after Maersk had decided to resume transits through the region following the establishment of the U.S.-led naval coalition Operation Prosperity Guardian in mid-December.

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