Interruption in the Suez Canal Raises Security Issue

The Suez Canal has been blocked since Tuesday after a 400m container ship from Panama was crossed due to winds and poor visibility, following a sandstorm. More than 100 ships were affected.

The Ever Given ship tilted at km 151 of the channel as it crossed it from southern China en route to Rotterdam. The type of ship that caused the accident is one of the largest cargo ships in the world.

This week Egypt suffers a wave of bad weather with winds and suspended sand, which makes visibility difficult and has affected other activities in the Arab country.

Ever Given is 400m long, 59m wide, and has a capacity of 224,000 tons. Eight tugboats are working on the operation to reopen channel traffic.

The blockade caused major traffic congestion for other ships in the area. Oil prices rose 3%.

Egypt opened the New Suez Canal in 2015 to increase traffic and allow the transit of deeper vessels.

The Safety4sea website highlights that this situation increases the safety risk in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.

In all risk areas, static vessels significantly increase the opportunity to be a threat agent.

The primary risk within the area remains specific to vessels linked to Saudi Arabia, the USA, Israel, Indonesia, and Iran. However, all vessels “should consider adopting an enhanced alert stance if they are forced to remain static at sea. Red, or the Gulf of Aden ”.

Currently, the vast Red Sea and the Bab-El-Mandeb Strait is an area of ​​geopolitical tension within the region. In addition, broader regional themes in the past 24 months have increased the potential threat within the area, as well as the ongoing conflict between Yemeni and Houthi rebel forces, the website highlights.

Houthi rebels are known to “use various methods within the strait, including the use of water-based improvised explosive devices (RC-WBIEDs) and anti-navigation cruise missiles (ASCMs)”. In addition, there are reports from several groups known to have deployed marine mines throughout the coastal zone.

Improvised waterborne explosive devices (WBIED) also played a role in the previous attack patterns of Houthi units within the strait, with particular emphasis on Saudi ports Jizan and Shuquaiq, due to their proximity to the Saudi Yemen border, as well as the Yemeni port of Salif.

The risk to vessels inside Bab-El-Mandeb due to acts of maritime crime and piracy remains low. However, there is a notable absence of incidents with definite pirate intent. The website estimates that “there is a very high rate of false alarms in this region due to the concentration of commercial traffic and local fishing”.

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