Climate talks coincide with calls for action over hijack threat

While the world’s attention is focused on the UAE and the vital COP28 climate summit there are growing concerns over the spread of the impact of the war in Gaza.

While Israel and Hamas have agreed an uneasy truce fire to enable the release of Israeli hostages captured in raids on 7 October, vessels transiting the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden have come under attack with at least two vessels having been hijacked.

There er claims that the hijackers are Houthi rebels which have been backed by Iran who also support Hamas, which has been branded a terrorist organisation by a number of countries including the United Kingdom.

Last week the vessel Galaxy Leader, (pic) with 25 crew onboard was seized near Hodeida, Yemen on its way to India. The Isle of Man registered vessel was operated by Japanese shipping company Nippon Yusen

At the time the vessel was sized the Yemeni militia claimed the vessel was Israeli, and a spokesman said the seizure was only the beginning of a “battle at sea”.

This has been followed by an attempted hijacking of a second vessel the MV Central park, which was inly thwarted by the involvement of a United State naval vessel the USS Mason which came under fire with missiles fired from Yemen.

It has prompted the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) to issue a statement urging the maritime community to be vigilant and calling on various states in the region to step up to secure vessels transiting the area.

It said it  had “serious concerns regarding the recent attacks against commercial ships transiting the southern Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden”.

“In all cases, these vessels are conducting their right of freedom of navigation and innocent passage. The attacks are a flagrant breach of international law and maritime norms by paramilitary forces in Yemen. These attacks must stop immediately, and the innocent seafarers released.”

It added the cost to the safety and well-being of the seafarers on board those ships while in the service of global trade being embroiled in these attacks “should not be underestimated”.

Industry has issued routing guidance for ships in the region, and it is strongly urged that any vessel transiting these waters conduct a thorough threat and risk assessment, taking into account guidance from their flag State and P&I Club, the ICS added.

“Nevertheless, commercial ships’ self-protection measures against a well-armed and capable antagonist can only go so far, and ICS firmly believe that the well-developed maritime security architecture in the region should continue to be maximised to ensure that no other ships and their crew fall victim to such aggression.

“Furthermore, noting the complexity of the situation, ICS would call on those States that have influence in the region to use everything within their power to maintain freedom of navigation, and dissuade the antagonists from persisting in this aggressive and illegal action that disrupts trade, and victimises innocent seafarers.”

There have been goring concerns that the spread of the current conflict beyond Israel and Gaza. The fears are that a regional conflict will impact global supply chains and in particular the supply and it the price of oil.

It seems that the coming weeks will be dominated by the use and availability of fossil fuels but coming at the issue from two very different standpoints.

Politicians are facing calls to protect the future while on the other side of the Arabian Peninsula, there are calls for action by politicians to act in order to safeguard the present.

Jon Guy, Editor,

Emerging Risks