Ocean Network Express Halts Red Sea And Suez Canal Navigation Due To Security Risks

Ocean Network Express, a container conglomerate based in Japan, announced on December 19 that it has chosen to temporarily halt operations and divert its vessels via the Cape of Good Hope in lieu of the Suez Canal and the Red Sea due to growing security concerns.

ONE said it would temporarily and immediately and effectively redirect its ships away from the Red Sea and the Suez Canal. Alternatively, ships will be steered via the Cape of Good Hope, or their voyages will be momentarily halted and repositioned in a secure area.

The container shipping division of Japan’s NYK Line, Mitsui OSK Lines, and Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha (K Line), with headquarters in Singapore, stated that it would keep an eye on the situation and resume operations via the Suez once the problem is back to normal.

ONE
Image Credits: ONE/Twitter

A.P. Moller-Maersk announced on December 19 that the company would reroute its vessels via the lengthier Cape of Good Hope route to reduce the risk of assaults in the Red Sea region. This announcement coincides with ONE’s move. Previously, a wave of attacks on vessels by Houthi militants based in Yemen had forced Maersk to halt sailings via the Bab al-Mandab Strait temporarily.

About 20 ships, per Maersk, have delayed their transit as of December 18. Of those, half waited east of the Gulf of Aden, and the remaining ships were either north of Suez in the Mediterranean Sea or south of Suez in the Red Sea.

A US-headed naval task force

To prevent more marine strikes by Iran-backed Houthi terrorists in Yemen, which have alerted energy traders and forced major oil and shipping companies to steer clear of the vital waterway connecting European and Asian markets, a US-headed naval task force is going to be stationed around the Red Sea.

The US will be joined in the defence plan known as Operation Prosperity Guardian by the UK, France, Italy, Bahrain, Canada, the Netherlands, Seychelles, Norway, and Spain, per the US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who called a summit with regional leaders late on December 18. Per a statement from the Japanese defence ministry, the US Department of Defense hosted an online discussion on Red Sea Maritime Security on December 19, attended by Japan’s Minister of Defense, Minoru Kihara.

To secure stable usage of maritime lanes in the Middle East and maintain stability and security in the international community, Minister Kihara declared that the Japanese Ministry of Defense and Self-Defense Forces will keep on working closely with relevant countries, according to the ministry.

Per the statement, the SDF and Japan’s Ministry of Defense will keep working with the US and other like-minded nations to maintain world peace, stability, and maritime security. Since 2009, Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force has been stationed offshore of Somalia in the Gulf of Aden to defend Japanese-owned ships from piracy assaults.

Reference: SPGlobal

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