Summary of Red Sea events from the last two months

Need to step back and get a big picture of what's been happening in the Red Sea lately? Here is a summary of events in chronological order and a list of all the shipping companies who have had to change their course.
Summary of Red Sea events from the last two months

Yemeni men brandish their weapons and hold up portraits of Houthi leader Abdul Malik al-Houthi during a protest in solidarity with the Palestinian people in the Houthi-controlled Yemeni capital Sanaa on Jan. 5, 2024, amid the ongoing battles between Israel and the militant Hamas group in Gaza. (Credit: Mohammed Huwais/AFP)

LONDON — The United States and Britain carried out strikes from the air and sea on Friday and Saturday against Houthi military targets in Yemen in response to the movement's attacks on ships in the southern Red Sea and Bab al-Mandab Strait. The rebel group's attacks are, in turn, being carried out in response to Israel's now three-month-long bombardment of Gaza.

Here is a breakdown of recent Houthi attacks and international responses:

• Nov. 19: Israel said Houthis seized a British-owned and Japanese-operated cargo ship in the southern Red Sea.

• Dec. 3: US military said three commercial vessels came under attack in international waters in the southern Red Sea, as Houthis claimed drone and missile attacks on two Israeli vessels in the area.

• Dec. 9: Houthis said they would target all ships heading to Israel, regardless of their nationality, and warned all international shipping companies against dealing with Israeli ports.

• Dec. 12: A Houthi spokesman said the group targeted Norwegian commercial tanker STRINDA. The attack took place about 60 miles (111 km) north of the Bab al-Mandab Strait, a US official said.

• Maersk denies a Houthi claim that the militia carried out a drone strike on a Maersk vessel sailing towards Israel, but says the tanker was targeted by a missile.

• Dec. 15: A projectile launched from Houthi-controlled Yemen strikes the Liberia-flagged, German-owned Al Jasrah ship, causing a fire but no injuries, a US defence official says.

• Dec. 16: The US Central Command says its guided missile destroyer USCarney shot down 14 drones launched by Houthis over the Red Sea.

• Dec. 18: The M/V Swan Atlantic is attacked in the southern Red Sea by multiple projectiles launched from Houthi-held territory, USofficials said.

• Dec. 23: The United States shot down four drones headed towards a US destroyer in the southern Red Sea and launched from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen, US Central Command said. The Norwegian-flagged, -owned and -operated chemical/oil tanker Blaamanen reported a near miss in a Houthi drone attack, while a Gabon-owned, Indian-flagged crude oil tanker reported being hit by an attack.

• MSC Mediterranean Shipping said there were no injuries to its crew from the attack on its ship, the United VIII, en route from Saudi Arabia to Pakistan.

• Dec. 28: The United States said it shot down one drone and one anti-ship ballistic missile in the southern Red Sea fired by Houthis in the 22nd attempted attack on international shipping since Oct. 19.

• Dec. 26: Houthis claim responsibility for a missile attack on a container ship in the Red Sea and for an attempt to attack Israel with drones.

• Dec. 31 - Houthis say that 10 of their naval personnel were dead and missing after three of their boats were attacked by US forces in the Red Sea. Houthi naval forces had carried out a missile attack on the Maersk Hangzhou container vessel after its crew refused to heed warning calls, a Houthi spokesman said.

• Jan. 2: Houthi militants fired two anti-ship ballistic missiles into the southern Red Sea though no damage was reported, the US Central Command said. Multiple commercial ships in the area reported the impact of the missiles on the surrounding water.

• Jan. 3: Houthis say they had "targeted" a container ship bound for Israel.

• Jan. 6: Six small craft approached a merchant vessel about 50 miles from the Yemeni city of Mocha before leaving the area, the British maritime agency (UKMTO) said. A drone launched from Yemen was shot down in self-defence by a US ship in the southern Red Sea, the US Central Command said.

• Jan. 9: US and British naval forces shot down 21 Houthi drones and missiles. US President Joe Biden said they had directly targeted American ships. The Houthis said it was in part retaliation for a New Year's Eve incident when US helicopters sank three Houthi boats, killing fighters who were attempting to board a commercial vessel.

• Jan. 11: Houthis fired an anti-ship ballistic missile into international shipping lanes in the Gulf of Aden but the attack did not cause injuries nor damage, the US military said. It was the 27th such Houthi attack since Nov. 19, the US said.

What is Bab al-Mandab?

• The Bab al-Mandab Strait, or the Gate of Tears, named for its perilous navigation, is the outlet of the Red Sea between Yemen, on the Arabian Peninsula, and Djibouti and Eritrea on the African coast.

• It is one of the world's most important routes for global seaborne commodity shipments, particularly crude oil and fuel from the Gulf bound for the Mediterranean via the Suez Canal or SUMED pipeline, as well as commodities bound for Asia, including RUSan oil.

• Bab al-Mandab was the site of a naval blockade of Israel by Egypt in the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

• Bab al-Mandab is 18 miles wide at its narrowest point, making tanker traffic difficult and limited to two channels for inbound and outbound shipments, divided by the island of Perim.

• Around 7.80 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude and fuel shipments transited the strait in the first 11 months of 2023, up from 6.60 million bpd throughout 2022, according to oil analytics firm Vortexa. On average, Vortexa tracked 27 tankers carrying crude or fuel each day in 2023, up from 20 last year.

Here is a list of actions taken by shipping companies in response to Houthi attacks (in alphabetical order):


The global logistics group said on Dec. 22 it had rerouted more than 25 vessels around the Cape of Good Hope over the past week, and that number would likely grow.

"Blank sailings and rate increases are expected to continue across many trades into Q1 of 2024," it added.


The French shipping firm said on Jan. 5 it had not changed its plans announced last month to gradually raise the number of vessels transiting through the Suez Canal.

It had previously rerouted several vessels via the Cape of Good Hope.


The Belgian oil tanker firm said on Dec. 18 it would avoid the Red Sea until further notice.


The Taiwanese container shipping line said on Dec. 18 its vessels on regional services to Red Sea ports would sail to safe waters nearby and wait for further notification, while ships scheduled to pass through the Red Sea would be rerouted around Africa. It also temporarily stopped accepting Israeli cargo.


The Norway-based oil tanker group on Dec. 18 said its vessels would avoid the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.


The Norwegian company, which specialises in transporting vehicles, said on Dec. 21 its vessels were restricted from passing through the Red Sea.


The German container shipping line on Jan. 9 said it would continue to divert its vessels away from the Suez Canal and around the Cape of Good Hope. It will take next decisions on Jan. 15.

A Hapag-Lloyd spokesperson said on Jan. 12 it welcomed measures to secure safe passage for cargo vessels, as diversions have led to tens of millions of euros in additional monthly costs.

"We are not commenting on the specific incidents that occurred last night," the spokesperson said regarding the U.S-British air strikes.

HMM (011200.KS)

The South Korean container shipper said on Dec. 19 it had ordered its ships which would normally use the Suez Canal to reroute around Africa.


The Norwegian shipping company said on Dec. 20 it would stop sailing via the Red Sea after the Norwegian Maritime Authority raised its alert for the southern part of the sea to the highest level.


The Norway-based fleet operator said on Dec. 28 it was unlikely to sail any of its vessels in the Red Sea unless the situation improves.


The Danish shipping group, which controls about one-sixth of global container trade, said on Jan. 5 it would suspend Red Sea traffic "for the foreseeable future".

Houthi attackers had sought to board one of its container vessels on Dec. 31.

Following the U.S.-British strikes against Houthi military targets, Maersk said on Jan. 12 it hopes international interventions and a larger naval presence in the area will eventually lead to a resumption of maritime commerce through the strait.


Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) said on Dec. 16 its ships would not transit through the Suez Canal, with some already rerouted via the Cape of Good Hope, a day after two ballistic missiles were fired at one of its vessels.


Ocean Network Express (ONE), a joint venture between Japan's Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha (9107.T), Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (9104.T) and Nippon Yusen (9101.T), said on Dec. 19 it would reroute vessels from the Red Sea to the Cape of Good Hope or temporarily pause journeys and move to safe areas.


The Hong Kong-headquartered container group said on Dec. 21 it had instructed its vessels to either divert their route away from the Red Sea or suspend sailing. The company, owned by Orient Overseas (International) Ltd (0316.HK), also stopped accepting cargo to and from Israel until further notice.


The Norwegian shipping group said on Dec. 19 it would halt Red Sea transits until further notice. Rerouting vessels around Africa will add 1-2 weeks to voyage durations, it said.


The Taiwanese container shipping company said on Dec. 18 it would divert ships sailing through the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden via the Cape of Good Hope for the next two weeks.

LONDON — The United States and Britain
carried out strikes from the air and sea on Friday and Saturday against Houthi military
targets in Yemen in response to the movement's attacks on ships
in the southern Red Sea and Bab al-Mandab Strait. The rebel group's attacks are, in turn, being carried out in response to Israel's now three-month-long bombardment of Gaza.Here is a breakdown of recent...