In a recent development, two commercial ships have altered their course in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, triggering concerns over maritime security. Shipping data and British maritime security company Ambrey have revealed that these vessels are associated with the same maritime group as a ship seized by the Houthis in Yemen.
Israel has identified the seizure of a British-owned, Japanese-operated cargo ship by the Houthis as an “Iranian act of terrorism.” This incident has raised the alarm for international maritime security. However, the Houthis claim that the ship is Israeli-owned, presenting a conflicting narrative.
The Japanese government has confirmed the capture of the Nippon Yusen-operated ship Galaxy Leader by appealing to the Houthis and seeking assistance from Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Iran to secure the swift release of the vessel and its crew.
Two other ships, Glovis Star and Hermes Leader, both commercially managed by Ray Car Carriers, have also diverted their intended routes. The Hermes Leader altered its course back to its previous location, traveling to Hambantota, Sri Lanka, after initially heading south of Nishtun in Yemen. This redirection led to a significant business disruption and an additional distance of 1,876 nautical miles. The Glovis Star briefly drifted in the Red Sea before continuing its voyage.
Galaxy Maritime Ltd, the registered owner of the Galaxy Leader, based in the Isle of Man, issued a statement confirming that the ship was illegally boarded by military personnel via a helicopter on November 19. However, the company refrained from commenting further on “political issues” when asked about the diversion of the other two vessels.
The Houthis have previously declared their intent to launch further attacks on Israel and have specifically mentioned the possibility of targeting Israeli ships in the Red Sea and the Bab al-Mandeb Strait. This recent seizure of the cargo ship near the Houthi-controlled port of Hodeidah has prompted the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) to issue an advisory urging caution when transiting this area.
Israeli President Isaac Herzog has expressed concern over the incident, highlighting the threat it poses to international law and order. The hijacking of a ship on the high seas by pirates, as officially proclaimed by the Houthis, is a significant development and demands attention from the international community.
As maritime security continues to be a key challenge, it is crucial for governments and organizations to collaborate and strengthen efforts to safeguard shipping lanes and protect vessels from such acts. The incident in the Red Sea serves as a reminder of the pressing need for greater vigilance and coordination in maintaining maritime security on a global scale.
1. What is the significance of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden in terms of maritime security?
The Red Sea and Gulf of Aden are strategically located waterways that connect the Mediterranean Sea with the Indian Ocean. These routes are crucial for international trade, with a significant volume of global shipping traffic passing through them. Ensuring the security of these areas is essential to prevent piracy, hijackings, and other threats to maritime commerce.
2. Who are the Houthis, and what is their relationship with Iran?
The Houthis are a rebel group based in Yemen. They have been engaged in a conflict with the Yemeni government and other regional players for several years. The group is an ally of Iran and has received support from Tehran in terms of weapons, training, and political backing.
3. How can maritime security be improved in the face of emerging threats?
Enhancing maritime security requires a comprehensive approach involving international cooperation, intelligence sharing, robust surveillance systems, and coordinated response mechanisms. Investments in technology, training, and infrastructure can further contribute to deterring and responding effectively to maritime threats. Governments, maritime organizations, and shipping companies must remain proactive in adopting measures to protect vessels and crew members.