Major shipping companies navigate risk: Suez Canal routes under review

On Tuesday, CMA CGM announced plans to increase the number of vessels travelling through the Suez Canal, joining Maersk in returning to the area after U.S.-led efforts to prevent attacks.

Leading shipping companies, including Maersk and Hapag-Lloyd, diverted from Red Sea routes due to Houthi threats, causing disruptions in Suez Canal trade.

Instead they have rerouted via southern Africa, a longer and more expensive journey. The canal is the quickest sea route between Asia and Europe.

Shipping companies are currently reassessing the safety of returning to certain routes following the United States’ announcement of a multinational maritime security initiative in the Red Sea, a response to the recent attacks on vessels by Yemen’s Houthis.

CMA CGM, in a statement, mentioned conducting a thorough evaluation of the security situation.

“We are currently devising plans for the gradual increase in the number of vessels transiting through the Suez Canal. We are monitoring the situation constantly and we stand ready to promptly reassess and adjust our plans as needed.”

Hapag-Lloyd- the German container shipping group will decide on Wednesday whether to resume journeys through the Red Sea, a spokesperson said.

“We will decide tomorrow how we will proceed,” a Hapag-Lloyd spokesperson said on Tuesday, declining to comment further.

The previous week, the company announced plans to redirect 25 ships by the year’s end to avoid the area.

Maersk, based in Denmark, declared on Sunday its readiness to resume shipping operations in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, citing the deployment of a U.S.-led military operation aimed at ensuring the safety of commerce in the region.

As of Tuesday, CMA CGM, in a notice on its website, indicated the rerouting of 28 vessels around the Cape of Good Hope, up from the 22 listed in the previous week. CMA CGM, like other container lines, has implemented surcharges due to vessel rerouting, contributing to increased sea transport costs since the targeting of vessels by the Houthis began.

The Mediterranean Shipping Co. reported an attack on the container ship United VIII in the Red Sea on Tuesday, with the Houthis claiming to have fired missiles at the vessel. Two explosions were reported in the Red Sea by a vessel near Yemen’s coast on Tuesday, following sightings of two unmanned aircraft, according to a statement from a British maritime authority.

The authority confirmed the vessel’s contact with coalition forces, reporting the crew’s safety and the vessel’s continuation of its voyage.

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