Iranian-backed Houthi insurgents reportedly launched an assault on a Maersk container vessel on Sunday navigating the Red Sea. As a result of the attack, Maersk said it has decided to suspend all sailing through the Red Sea for a 48-hour period.
What Happened: The targeted ship, Maersk Hangzhou, came under fire from missiles and small boats during the hostile encounter, Reuters reports. The crew of Maersk Hangzhou was unharmed, and there were no reports of any fire onboard. The vessel sustained no significant damage and has continued its northward journey to Port Suez, the newswire said.
U.S. helicopters sank three of the four Houthi boats involved in the incident, the report said.
The recurring attacks carried out by Houthi militants in Yemen have been aimed at expressing support for the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, which is engaged in a conflict with Israel in Gaza.
These ongoing disruptions have had a substantial impact on global trade, compelling major shipping companies to opt for the longer and more costly route around Africa’s Cape of Good Hope instead of utilizing the Suez Canal.
The Red Sea serves as a critical entry point for ships utilizing the Suez Canal, a vital conduit responsible for handling approximately 12% of global trade and playing a pivotal role in facilitating the movement of goods between Asia and Europe.
In response to the persistent attacks, the U.S. initiated “Operation Prosperity Guardian” Dec. 19, which saw participation from more than 20 nations committed to safeguarding ships in the Red Sea waters near Yemen.
Despite an earlier decision by Maersk to resume sailing through the Red Sea on Dec. 24, 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 declared a 48-hour delay for all transits through the affected area.
The attack itself involved missile strikes and an attempted boarding by Houthi insurgents using small boats. Swift action by security teams and U.S. warships in the vicinity prevented the situation from escalating further, Reuters said.
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 stressed the severity of these attacks, and said they pose threats to innocent lives and the global economy.
This content was partially produced with the help of AI tools and was reviewed and published by Benzinga editors.
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