Supply chain fears grow as vessels look to avoid Red Sea

The world’s shipowners are spending thousands of pounds in extra fuel and lengthening voyage times as the crisis in the Red Sea continues.

With the threat of further attacks by Houthi militia The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) has issued a new statement branding the attacks as “deplorable”, adding that some owners are now unwilling to risk the lives of their crew and the safety of their vessels.

The ICS stated: “Bahamas flagged Galaxy Leader, operated by Japanese company NYK, and owned by British Company Ray Car Carriers was seized by Houthi forces on 19 November. Subsequently there have been an increasing number of attacks against merchant ships.

“ICS deplores the actions of the Houthis in the strongest terms and calls for the immediate cessation of these attacks. These are unacceptable acts of aggression which threaten the lives of innocent seafarers and the safety of merchant shipping.

The ICS said: “These attacks are a flagrant breach of international law. States with influence in the region should, as a matter of urgency, work to stop the actions of the Houthis in attacking seafarers and merchant ships, and de-escalate what is now an extremely serious threat to international trade.”

The organisation warned there were rising cases of companies to take the decision to reroute vessels around the Cape of Good Hope to avoid Houthi aggression “which adds cost and delay to global trade”.

There are concerns from retailers that the longer transit times may cause supply chain issues in the run up to Christmas and the new year sales which are traditionally a vital period of the yearn for revenue.

“The industry is extremely concerned about these attacks on shipping and is understood to be considering additional actions which could lead to further ships diverting to this route, with further potential impacts on trade,” the ICS statement continued. “The Red Sea is a crucial waterway, linking Europe and Asia. Currently 12% of global trade passes through the Red Sea.

“ICS lauds the actions and presence of naval forces so far in intervening against the aggressors and hopes and expects further commitments of the same nature in the very near future. Furthermore, the full maritime security architecture in the region should be brought to bear to end these attacks and protect our seafarers and merchant shipping.”

The ICS concluded its statement by saying: “Industry will continue to provide guidance to shipowners and operators, and work with military powers in the region to mitigate the threat to shipping presented by the Houthis.”