Factbox-Shipping firms react to Houthi attacks in the Red Sea

(Reuters) -Iranian-backed Houthi militants in Yemen have stepped up attacks on vessels in the Red Sea, impacting a shipping route vital to East-West trade.

In response, some shipping companies have instructed vessels to instead sail around southern Africa, a slower and therefore more expensive route.

The U.S. and Britain launched dozens of air strikes against Houthi military targets overnight on Jan. 11 and 12, widening regional conflict stemming from Israel’s war in Gaza.

Below are actions taken by companies (in alphabetical order):


The global logistics group said on Dec. 22 it had rerouted more than 25 vessels around Africa over the previous week, and that number would likely grow.

“Blank sailings and rate increases are expected to continue across many trades into Q1 of 2024,” it added.


The French shipping firm said on Jan. 5 it had not changed its plans announced in December to gradually raise the number of vessels transiting through the Suez Canal.

It had previously rerouted several vessels via the Cape of Good Hope.


The Belgian oil tanker firm said on Dec. 18 it would avoid the Red Sea until further notice.


The Taiwanese container shipping line said on Dec. 18 its vessels on regional services to Red Sea ports would sail to safe waters nearby, while ships scheduled to pass through the Red Sea would be rerouted around Africa. It also temporarily stopped accepting Israeli cargo.


The Norway-based oil tanker group on Dec. 18 said its vessels would avoid the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.


The Norwegian auto carrier said on Dec. 21 its vessels were restricted from passing through the Red Sea.


The Norwegian shipping firm said on Jan. 12 it has halted all ships heading towards or within the Bab al-Mandab Strait.


The German container shipping line said on Jan. 22 it will continue to route its vessels around Africa until further notice.

The company also said it is introducing land corridors from Jebel Ali, Dammam and Jubail to its ocean shuttle service out of Jeddah to mitigate the impact on its business.


The South Korean container shipper said on Dec. 19 it had ordered its ships which would normally use the Suez Canal to reroute around Africa.


The Norwegian auto carrier said on Dec. 20 it would stop sailing via the Red Sea.


The Norway-based fleet operator said on Dec. 28 it was unlikely to sail any of its vessels in the Red Sea unless the situation improves.


“Even if from today forward the Bab al-Mandeb Strait was to become safe and secure for transit, we expect it will take a minimum of two months before vessels could assume normal rotational patterns,” Michael Aldwell, executive VP for sea logistics at the Swiss logistics firm, said on Jan. 12.


The Danish shipping group on Jan. 5 suspended Red Sea traffic “for the foreseeable future”.

On Jan. 18, Maersk said the Red Sea disruptions and winter weather were causing congestion at container terminals, urging customers to pick up their units as soon as possible. It also started offering customers the option to shift some cargo from vessels to air freight at ports in Oman and the UAE.

A day earlier, its CEO said the Red Sea-related disruption to global shipping would likely last at least a few months.

Maersk said after the U.S.-British air strikes that it hopes international interventions and a larger naval presence in the area will eventually lead to a resumption of maritime commerce through the strait.

On Jan. 16, it sent two container ships through the Red Sea carrying goods for the U.S. military and government.


Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) said on Dec. 16 its ships would not transit through the Suez Canal.


Japan’s biggest shipper by sales suspended navigation through the Red Sea for all vessels it operates, a spokesperson told Reuters on Jan. 16. It has also instructed vessels near the Red Sea to wait in safe waters and is considering route change.


Ocean Network Express, a joint venture between Japan’s Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines and Nippon Yusen, said on Dec. 19 it would reroute vessels from the Red Sea to the Cape of Good Hope or temporarily pause journeys and move to safe areas.


The Hong Kong-headquartered container group said on Dec. 21 it had instructed its vessels to either divert their route away from the Red Sea or suspend sailing. It also stopped accepting cargo to and from Israel until further notice.


The Danish oil tanker group said on Jan. 12 it had decided to pause all transits through the southern Red Sea for now.


The Norwegian shipping group said on Dec. 19 it would halt Red Sea transits until further notice.


The Taiwanese container shipping company said on Dec. 18 it would divert ships sailing through the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden via the Cape of Good Hope for the next two weeks.

(Compiled by Paolo Laudani, Izabela Niemiec, Jesus Calero, Louis van Boxel-Woolf, Tristan Veyet and Elsa Ohlen in Gdansk; Editing by Jason Neely, Milla Nissi and Louise Heavens)