Following a Houthi militant attack on one of its containerships this week, Danish shipping giant Maersk has temporarily stopped all of its cargo vessels from sailing to the Red Sea until further notice.
The attack took place on Wednesday in the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, a crucial channel for international shipping that runs between Yemen and Djibouti and Eritrea. Maersk’s vessel, the Maersk Etienne, was hit by a missile fired from a Houthi-controlled area of Yemen.
The missile struck the waterline of the vessel and caused some minor damage to the hull, but the crew and the cargo were unharmed. The missile, however, was enough to force the company to temporarily stop all shipping activities in the Red Sea.
Maersk’s decision to stop all shipments in the region could be a major blow to international commerce. An estimated 3.3 million barrels of oil pass through the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait every day to travel between the Middle East and Europe, and the stoppage of vessels could cause a massive disruption in the flow of commerce.
Maersk is the latest shipping company to take steps to protect against possible attacks, as the area has seen an uptick in attacks over the past year. Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom have both urged shipping companies to review their security procedures and take appropriate steps to protect their vessels and cargo.
At the moment, the shipping company hasn’t given any indication as to when it will resume shipments in the Red Sea, but it has said that it will do so only after ensuring that its vessels are adequately protected from further attacks.
This latest attack shows that the Houthi militants are willing to launch attacks on commercial vessels in the region, regardless of their nationality. If Maersk or any other company fails to take the necessary steps to protect its vessels, then this could lead to further disruptions in trading activity and a general decline in security in the Red Sea.