Alarm Raised by Shipping Industry After Another Red Sea Vessel Sinking

Leading shipping organizations have urgently called on influential governments to intervene and stop Houthi attacks on vessels in the Red Sea, following the sinking of a second freighter this week.

The attacks have resulted in the deaths of at least three seafarers, with another fatality likely from the most recent incident, according to a statement released Wednesday by more than a dozen shipping associations, including the International Chamber of Shipping and the World Shipping Council.

The escalating violence has caused significant disruptions to one of the world’s crucial maritime trade routes, which has been nearly inaccessible to container ships since late last year. As a result, ships are being diverted around the southern tip of Africa, leading to soaring shipping costs and port congestion in Asia and Europe, which threaten to destabilize global supply chains.

“Innocent seafarers are being attacked while performing vital jobs that keep the world’s economy moving,” the shipping associations stated. “This situation is unacceptable, and these attacks must stop now. We call for states with influence in the region to protect our seafarers and swiftly de-escalate the situation in the Red Sea.”

The UK Maritime Trade Operations, part of the Royal Navy, confirmed that a Greek-owned coal carrier had sunk after being hit by the Houthis last week. The vessel, named the MV Tutor, reportedly lost a crew member, marking the second fatal attack on seafarers caught in geopolitical conflicts. Earlier, a British-registered vessel, Rubymar, was sunk in March by ballistic missiles from Yemen.

The Houthi rebels, based in Yemen and aligned with Iran, began launching drone and missile strikes on vessels in the Red Sea in November, claiming it was retaliation against Israel’s actions in Gaza. They have also seized one vessel and its crew, who remain hostages.

These attacks have severely disrupted transit through the Red Sea, a critical connection to the Suez Canal, which facilitates 10–15% of global trade. Consequently, major shipping companies like Maersk and Hapag Lloyd have rerouted their vessels via the longer route around the southern tip of Africa, causing a dramatic increase in freight rates. As of last week, the cost of shipping a typical 40-foot container on major East-West routes surged to $5,117, a 233% increase from a year ago, according to London-based shipping consultancy Drewry.

In response, carriers have added emergency surcharges. Maersk, for instance, temporarily increased some of these charges last month. “The complexity of the Red Sea situation and its ripple effects on global supply chains have intensified,” the Danish company noted, pointing to “operational bottlenecks.”

Logistics firm Freightos reports that these forced diversions are causing congestion at ports in Singapore, Malaysia, Shanghai, and Barcelona, resulting in delays and cancellations as vessels miss scheduled departures.

The increasing delays and shipping costs are pressuring companies to move seasonal goods earlier to avoid further rate hikes or delays later in the year, potentially leading to shortages during the peak shopping season. “Houthi attacks continue to make the Red Sea unsafe, and rising charter activity and rates indicate carriers expect congestion to persist,” Freightos’s head of research, Judah Levine, observed.

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