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Maersk will continue to avoid Red Sea

Denmark-based global shipper Maersk said on Friday March 22nd that it was too early for it to be willing to resume sailings through the Red Sea, despite an EU initiative that was intended to protect EU vessels travelling in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. Maersk said that there continued to be an elevated risk level.

The company suspended Red Sea traffic on January 5th (IMN, January 8th). Since then it has redirected ships via the Cape of Good Hope.

The EU launched its protective and defensive mission (Operation Aspides) in the southern Red Sea in February, kept separate from the US-led Operation Prosperity Guardian (OPG), in which the UK is participating and which is taking a more proactive stance towards the Houthis.

Maersk said it was aware that other shipping companies had continued to sail through the Red Sea, or had announced plans to resume sailing. “We continue with our own assessment that the current situation does not allow us to make a similar decision,” it said, adding that it felt “sailing via the Cape of Good Hope and around Africa is the most reasonable solution at the moment and the one that currently allows the best supply chain stability”.

Maersk welcomed Operation Aspides as a positive development and said that Maersk was in “continuous dialogue” and monitoring developments in the region. However it said that “both our internal analysis, as well as insight we received from external sources, still indicates that the risk level in the region remains elevated”.

The Maersk Gibraltar (IMO 9739692) had a near-miss incident on December 14th (IMN, December 15th 2023) leading to the first pause. It then received assurances after OPG began and at the end of December Maersk said it was updating voyage plans on a vessel-by-vessel basis, which would see the first vessels pass through the Red Sea again.

However, just one day after this statement from Maersk container ship Maersk Hangzhou on December 30th was hit by an unknown object IMN January 2nd) . The ship been heading from Singapore to Suez. Maersk said that, out of concern for crew safety, it was again intending to reroute all relevant journeys away from the Red Sea.

Among the major carriers, only CMA CGM has said it was prepared to resume transits. At the end of February, having suspended transits for a short period, the French carrier said that it had “reevaluated the situation in the Southern Area of the Red Sea”, with the situation being assessed on a ship-by-ship basis.

Aspides reported last week that it had escorted 35 merchant vessels during its first month of operation.

MSC has also said that it was diverting round the Cape of Good Hope. BIMCO has said that most of the transits were being made by smaller operators.

2016-built, Hong Kong-flagged, 113,042 gt Maersk Gibraltar is owned by GC Intermodal XX Ltd care of Seaspan Ship Management Ltd of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. It is entered with NorthStandard on behalf of Seaspan Ship Management Ltd.

2021-built, Liberia-flagged, 49,218 gt Maersk Pangani is owned by Sasa Oriental Ltd care of manager ASM Maritime BV of Amsterdam, Netherlands. It is entered with Gard P&I on behalf of SASA Oriental Ltd. Gard is claims leader for hull on behalf of Eastern Pacific Shipping Pte Ltd.

2018-built, Singapore-flagged, 153,773 gt Maersk Hangzhou is owned by Moller Singapore AP Pte Ltd of Singapore. It is managed by Maersk AS of Copenhagen, Denmark. It is entered with NorthStandard on behalf of AP Moller Singapore. No AIS is currently publicly available.