Houthi attacks: EU recommends alternative route through the Indian Ocean

The detour around the Cape of Good Hope forced by the Houthi attacks in the Red Sea could become longer and even more expensive for shipping company customers.

The EU’s naval command, EUNAVFOR, has recommended that all ships steer an even wider course to the east around the risk area in and off the Gulf of Aden. Previously, the Houthi movement in Yemen, which is financed and militarily equipped by Iran, had threatened to expand its attacks. [ds_preview]

According to the EUNAVFOR recommendation, merchant vessels transiting the Indian Ocean should “take an alternative sea route no less than 150 nm east of the current traffic routes.” The warning follows another drone attack, this time on the “MSC Orion” (built in 2020, 14,900 TEU) earlier this month. It was the first attack outside the Gulf of Aden, more than 300 nm from the Horn of Africa.

Ships should evade Huthi attacks

“This attack confirms that potential attacks in the Indian Ocean can take place up to 800 nm from Houthi-controlled areas in Yemen,” EUNAVFOR announced in a briefing. In addition to the route change, the crews are advised to change course and speed more frequently and to restrict the transmission of AIS signals in the risk area.

Huthi, EU, Rotes Meer, Route, Indischer Ozean
The recommended alternative route to avoid the crisis area (© EUNAVFOR)

The Houthis have carried out almost 100 attacks on merchant ships in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden since mid-November. The group is targeting ships allegedly owned by the USA, the United Kingdom or Israel or used in trade with Israel. The Houthis consider themselves to be on the side of the Palestinian Hamas group in the Middle East conflict. The attacks are carried out using drones, missiles and attempts to capture ships. Three sailors have died so far. The conflict began with the hijacking of the “Galaxy Leader” at the end of October 2023.

Pirates fail with hijacking attempt

In the meantime, pirates operating from Somalia have also become active again. Most recently, the tanker “Chrystal Arctic”, sailing under the flag of the Marshall Islands, was attacked around 100 nm north of Bosaso (Somalia). Six of the suspected pirates were arrested by the crew of a warship sailing for the ATALANTA mission.

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Copyright: © Indian Navy

Caption: The tanker "Marlin Luanda" burns after a Huthi drone attack in the Red Sea