Maersk Suspends Shipping After US Navy Action
The suspension of shipping routes through the Red Sea continues, as Danish shipping giant Maersk announced a 48-hour pause on Sunday to reconsider its plans for resuming Suez Canal routes. This decision comes after the Iran-backed Houthi terrorists of Yemen attacked one of its container ships, adding more tension to an already volatile situation.
According to reports, the Maersk Hangzhou was attacked on Sunday by four small boats containing Houthi fighters armed with small arms and crew-served weapons. The ship refused to obey “warning calls” from the terrorists, leading to the attack. Private security contractors aboard the Maersk ship attempted to defend against the attackers, but the situation quickly escalated.
Upon receiving a distress call from the Maersk Hangzhou, helicopters from two U.S. Navy warships – the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower and the destroyer USS Gravely – responded to the scene. The U.S. helicopters issued warnings to the Houthi terrorists, who fired upon the aircraft. The helicopters returned fire, sinking three of the boats and killing ten Houthis. The fourth boat fled the battle.
The incident marks the 24th illegal attack by the Houthis on international shipping since November 2021, according to a spokesperson for the insurgency. In response, the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) announced that the USS Gravely had intercepted two anti-ship ballistic missiles launched from Houthi territory on Saturday, in addition to Saturday’s incident.
The attacks have also raised concerns about potential supply line disruptions during the peak demand season of the Lunar New Year, leading to a two percent increase in oil prices in post-holiday trading.
Maersk had previously suspended all Red Sea shipping in mid-December due to Houthi attacks, but they had recently announced plans to resume shipping. However, the recent attacks have caused Maersk to reevaluate its plans and suspend shipping again for 48 hours.
Britain Preparing to Take ‘Direct Action’ Strikes Against Iran Proxy Houthis in Yemen https://t.co/ip3ceoHpak
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) January 2, 2024
The Biden administration’s Operation Prosperity Guardian, which aims to protect shipping from the Iran-supported Yemeni insurgents, has been dealt a blow with the recent attacks. The decision to remove the Houthis from the State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs) in 2021 has also come under scrutiny, as the insurgents continue to carry out attacks on commercial shipping.
In response to the attacks, White House national security spokesman John Kirby stated that the Biden administration has made it clear to the Houthis, as well as their allies and partners, that they take these threats seriously. UK Defense Minister Grant Shapps also issued a warning, stating that the UK is considering “direct action” against the Houthis to halt their attacks.
Meanwhile, the Iranian destroyer Alborz entered the Red Sea through the Bab el-Mandeb Strait on Monday, adding more tension to the region. This follows a visit from a Houthi representative to Tehran and statements from Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, who criticized Western powers for attempting to protect shipping from the Houthis’ attacks and defended their actions as a response to Israel’s actions in Gaza.
The situation in the Red Sea remains tense, with commercial shipping companies and governments around the world closely monitoring developments and making decisions on whether to continue using the route. The future of Operation Prosperity Guardian is also uncertain, as the attacks on shipping by the Houthis show no signs of stopping.