Houthi Attack Halts Red Sea Shipping: Maersk Vessel Escapes Unscathed

Iranian-backed Houthi insurgents have reportedly launched an assault on a Maersk container vessel in the Red Sea, prompting Maersk to suspend all sailing through the area for 48 hours. The targeted ship, Maersk Hangzhou, came under fire from missiles and small boats, but no significant damage or injuries were reported. U.S. helicopters sank three of the four Houthi boats involved in the incident.

These attacks, which are believed to express support for the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, have had a significant impact on global trade. Major shipping companies have been forced to take the longer and more costly route around Africa’s Cape of Good Hope instead of utilizing the Suez Canal. The Red Sea is a critical entry point for ships using the Suez Canal, which handles approximately 12% of global trade and facilitates the movement of goods between Asia and Europe.

In response to the ongoing attacks, the U.S. initiated “Operation Prosperity Guardian” on December 19, with the participation of more than 20 nations committed to safeguarding ships in the Red Sea near Yemen. Despite an earlier decision by Maersk to resume sailing through the Red Sea, the attacks have continued, and some U.S. allies have been hesitant to publicly disclose their involvement in the coalition.

Following the recent attack on Maersk Hangzhou, the shipping giant has declared a 48-hour delay for all transits through the affected area. The attack involved missile strikes and an attempted boarding by Houthi insurgents using small boats. Swift action by security teams and U.S. warships prevented the situation from escalating further.

The situation has garnered international attention, with British Foreign Secretary David Cameron urging Iran, which provides backing to the Houthi insurgents, to assume responsibility and assist in halting these attacks. Cameron emphasized the severity of these attacks, stating that they pose threats to innocent lives and the global economy.

It is clear that these ongoing disruptions in the Red Sea have had far-reaching consequences for global trade and shipping companies. The involvement of multiple nations in Operation Prosperity Guardian demonstrates the seriousness with which this issue is being addressed. As the situation continues to unfold, it remains crucial for all parties involved to work towards a resolution that ensures the safety of ships and the uninterrupted flow of global trade.

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