Maersk vessels turn round after Houthi missile attack

Denmark-based Maersk said yesterday January 24th that two US-flagged vessels transiting the Bab al-Mandab strait northbound, accompanied by the US Navy, had turned around after seeing explosions nearby. “While en route, both ships reported seeing explosions close by and the US Navy accompaniment also intercepted multiple projectiles,” Maersk said.

The vessels and crew were unharmed and were being escorted back to the Gulf of Aden by the US Navy, Maersk said.

The UK Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) office, which does not identify vessels in its alerts, said it received a report from the Master of a commercial vessel reporting an explosion about 100 metres to starboard side while the vessel was about 50nm south of Al Mukha, Yemen.

Container ships Maersk Detroit (IMO 9333034) and Maersk Chesapeake (IMO 9356074) are operated by Maersk Line Ltd (MLL), which is Maersk’s US-flag subsidiary. Both ships are enrolled in the US Maritime Administration’s Maritime Security Program and Voluntary Intermodal Sealift Agreement (VISA) with the US government.

Maersk said the cargo carried on the vessels included cargo belonging to the US Department of Defence, US Department of State, USAID, and other US government agencies. As a result, said Maersk, it was “therefore afforded the protection of the US Navy for passage.” MLL has now made the decision to suspend transits in the region in until further notice, stating that “the safety of our crews is of utmost importance”. It added that it would be “developing network contingencies”.

2008-built, USA-flagged, 76,642 gt Maersk Detroit is owned by Maersk Detroit Trust care of Maersk Line Ltd USA of Norfolk, Virginia, USA, It is entered with NorthStandard on behalf of Maersk Detroit Trust. As of January 18th the vessel had been moored at Salalah, en route to Walvis Bay, Norfolk, Virginia, ETA February 1st.

2008-built, USA-flagged, 25,904 gt Maersk Chesapeake is owned by Maersk Chesapeake Trust care of Maersk Line Ltd USA of Norfolk, Virginia. It is entered with NorthStandard on behalf of Maersk Chesapeake Trust.

As of January 19th it was moored at Salalah, Oman (arrived January 19th).