Maersk prepares to return to Red Sea under US-led protection

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Moller-Maersk said it would continue to monitor safety conditions for its vessels and employees in the Red Sea. (File pic).

COPENHAGEN: Moller-Maersk, the world’s second-largest container line, said it is preparing to resume shipping through the Red Sea, thanks to a new multi-national maritime task force to protect vessels from attacks by Houthi rebels from Yemen.

“We are currently working on plans for the first vessels to make the transit and for this to happen as soon as operationally possible,” the company said Sunday in an advisory.

“While doing so, ensuring the safety of our employees is of the utmost importance and our number one priority in handling the challenging situation in the Red Sea/Gulf of Aden area.”

The announcement came just two days after the Copenhagen-based company said it envisions chaos in the Red Sea — caused by drone attacks from Houthis over the Israel-Hamas war — to continue for months.

In its Sunday statement, Maersk said that the creation of Operation Prosperity Guardian, a maritime task force set up by the US and its allies, is “most welcome news for the entire industry.”

The US and its allies say they are considering possible military action against the Houthis, which are backed by Iran.

Amid worries that the Israel-Hamas war may spiral into a regional conflict, the US accused Iran this weekend of being behind an attack on a tanker in the Indian Ocean.

Maersk stressed on Sunday that, while resuming transit in the Red Sea, “the overall risk is not eliminated in the area.” The company said it would “not hesitate” to re-evaluate the safety situation for its vessels and employees.

Houthi attacks on merchant ships have caused widespread avoidance of the southern Red Sea by the merchant fleet moving everything from manufactured goods and grains to oil and gas.

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