India providing security escort for container ships around Red Sea-govt source

By Shivangi Acharya

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India’s defence ministry is providing protective escorts to Indian container ships in the high seas around the Red Sea as the security situation there continues to simmer, a government source said on Friday.

Containers could face delays of 14 days in their turnaround time due to taking a longer sea route around Africa which is also causing higher transport and insurance costs, the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, added.

“The cost of freight & insurance has risen due to ships being compelled to avoid the region & take a longer route. There is no shortage of containers, but we see a longer turnaround time,” the source said.

Ships have been avoiding the Red Sea after the Houthi militant group stepped up maritime attacks against commercial vessels, which it said was a response to Israel’s military campaign in the Gaza Strip.

“Many consignments are being escorted with security in high seas with help from Ministry of Defence,” the source, who has direct knowledge of the matter said on Friday.

The Indian Navy said earlier this week that task groups of frigates and destroyers had been deployed in the central and northern Arabian Sea to assist merchant vessels passing through the region.

“Aerial surveillance by long-range maritime patrol aircraft and RPAs (Remotely Piloted Aircraft) has been enhanced to have a complete maritime domain awareness,” the statement, issued on Sunday, said.

Earlier this week, the United States and eleven other countries issued a joint statement reiterating a call for an end to Houthi attacks in the Red Sea.

(Reporting by Shivangi Acharya, writing by Tanvi Mehta and Shilpa Jamkhandikar, editing by Susan Fenton and Toby Chopra)