After a string of recent attacks on commercial vessels in the Red Sea, several major ocean liners have announced the temporary suspension of their vessel traffic through the Red Sea, and in turn the Suez Canal.

While only Maersk and Hapag have announced the pauses so far, other carriers may follow suit.

It was previously expected that the only vessels with reason to fear attack from Yemen’s Houthi militants were those with ties to Israeli businesses or ownership. However, the recent attack on two containerships with no obvious ties to Israel has shown the threat is more widespread.

With traffic being turned away from the Panama Canal because of the continuing low water situation playing out, fluidity of the Suez Canal is vital to keeping ocean supply chains as close to normal as possible. Any longer term or significant disruption to Suez traffic is likely to create a high level of deterioration in the consistency of ocean transport services.

No timetable has been firmly given for the resumption of attempts to use the Suez Canal. Sources have stated that Hapag will assess after a 48 hour pause. Maersk has offered no timetable.

If ocean carriers are unwilling to utilize the Suez Canal, their only options would be to force traffic through the beleaguered Panama Canal or utilize routings around the Cape of Good Hope in Africa. Neither would be an ideal solution.

Mohawk Global will continue to monitor the situation and provide applicable updates.

By Chris Lindstrand, Director of International Transportation

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