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Shipping will overcome this Red Sea crisis

As in the past, the industry will weigh the risks and find a way to cope

Until the full extent of the Houthi threat is known, we can only hope the tensions will ease and thank the brave sailors who continue to make trade possible

THE repeated attacks on vessels in the Red Sea in the past two months have led to US and UK air strikes on Yemen. Whether they will work is unclear, but this is now more than a supply chain crisis.

Knocking out Houthi missile and radar sites may win shipping some respite, but analysts say this is unlikely to last.

The Houthis promised to retaliate. They so far haven’t, besides a missile landing in the sea on Friday afternoon.

There have been many headlines so far, and there will be many more.

Yet like with past crises, shipping has coped remarkably well. As with the pandemic of 2020, the Ever Given grounding of 2021, or Russia's invasion of Ukraine in 2023 - the industry proved its importance, but also its resilience.

An increasing number ships are opting for the long way around the Cape of Good Hope.

Tankers which are booked for Saudi stems and thus have no choice but to sail through the Bab el Mandeb still can, thanks to US-led naval intervention in the shape of Operation Prosperity Guardian.

More cautious owners are can probably refuse orders under the BIMCO conwartime and voywar clauses. If there was any question about it a few days ago, there can be little doubt now.

Torm has opted to avoid the Red Sea, and more tanker owners may follow. Companies will do the maths, but most containerships that were going round the Cape are already doing so.

Electric car maker Tesla has been forced to close its Berlin gigafactory for a fortnight, officially on account of a shortage of components caused by Red Sea disruption. Media reports warn of supermarket shortages if it gets worse.

But as a rule, world trade is continuing to flow, if at some added cost.

Lloyd’s List editorials in these circumstances customarily extol the bravery of the seafarers who put themselves in harm’s way. We unhesitatingly do so again.

It is by now almost astonishing that no seafarers have been hurt given the barrage of drones, missiles and skiff attacks.

There have been doubts from the beginning about whether navies can keep a missile-proof bubble around world trade. So far though, they have.

Companies will weigh the risks and decide whether to proceed through the region. World trade will find a way.

Until the full extent of the Houthi threat is known, we can only hope the tensions will ease and thank the brave sailors who continue to make that trade possible.

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