Maersk Extends Red Sea Diversion and Warns Risk Will Persist

Maersk Vessels Will Continue to Sail Around Cape of Good Hope
Maersk container ship
The Maersk Sentosa container ship sails southbound to exit the Suez Canal in Suez, Egypt. (Stringer/Bloomberg News)

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A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S plans to continue diverting ships away from the Red Sea “for the foreseeable future” after pausing transits earlier this week to assess the situation.

Its latest decision marks a subtle-but-important adjustment from what the Danish company was saying previously. On Jan. 2, the shipping giant said it would avoid the area until further notice, after another of its carriers had come under attack in the space of a few weeks. The pause then was intended to allow time to “further assess the constantly evolving situation.”

All of Maersk’s vessels that had been due to transit the area will now sail south, around the Cape of Good Hope.

“By suspending voyages through the Red Sea/Gulf of Aden, we hope to bring our customers more consistency and predictability despite the associated delays that come with the rerouting,” the Copenhagen-based company said in a statement on its website on Jan. 5. “All available intelligence at hand confirm that the security risk continues to be at a significantly elevated level.”

The Red Sea is a vital trade corridor that cuts transport times between Asia and Europe, and Maersk’s ships are a large part of a network of vessels that form the backbone of global trade.

The shipping giant’s plan to shun the Red Sea indicates that it doesn’t view the naval response from western countries as sufficient to secure the area. Two Maersk ships have come under attack since mid-December.

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“While we continue to hope for a sustainable resolution in the near future and do all we can to contribute toward it, we do encourage customers to prepare for complications in the area to persist and for there to be significant disruption to the global network,” Maersk said on Jan. 5.

Maersk ranks No. 5 on the Transport Topics Top 50 global freight companies list.