Red Sea maritime situation worsens

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Threats to maritime safety in the Red Sea have widened and now include the Gulf of Aden and north-western Indian Ocean.

Last week and during the current weekend the US and UK conducted numerous strikes on Houthi positions thought to be from where drone and missile attacks on merchant and naval shipping are being carried out. The attacks were intended to degrade the ability of the Houthi’s from conducting further attacks on international shipping.

Similarly, aircraft and some cruise missile attacks, including from a US submarine, have been carried out against what the US/UK forces say are Iran-supported positions in several other countries across the Middle East, notably in Iraq and Syria. This follows a drone attack on an American military base in Jordan that resulted in the death of three US servicemen.

The result of this latest outbreak of hostilities and drama is an increasing number of ships that are re-routing around the Cape of Good Hope, with South African ports beginning to experience the effect of this increase in shipping activity.

In the north-western Indian Ocean the threat of piracy is again becoming evident, with attacks on several ships and vessels having been carried out.

In an executive summary, security company and adviser Ambrey says the threats have grown significantly, are complex and cover a wider area of operations.

The situation poses a significant risk to life and the safety of vessels in the area, the report says, with the Houthis having widened their targets and area of operations.

“An unprecedented international naval response has degraded their capabilities, but the Houthis have continued to attack shipping. As affiliated vessels reroute around the Cape of Good Hope, risk levels on other routes increase as weapon capability also improves.”

The report says that the international military presence cannot ensure safe passage of the region and that all available mitigation measures should be evaluated and considered.

Iran, says Ambrey, has become more assertive in its response to US sanctions, widened its area of operations, and acted in support of the Houthis.

“Security has deteriorated in the region. Since November, Iran, the Houthis, and Somali pirates have attacked civilian merchant Somali pirates have hijacked a bulk carrier and are assessed to have attacked three other merchant vessels in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden. Their attacks have utilised hijacked dhows to act as motherships to reach international waters over 750M from the Somali coast.”

You can see the full Ambrey report here

Written by Africa Ports & Ships and republished with permission. The original article can be found here.