Sunday, January 14, 2024

Red sea attacks; container costs up 400%; freight rates soar

 Day 29 of the Red Sea crisis with attacks from both sides last night.
A missile was fired at a vessel 90nm Southeast of Aden in the Gulf of Aden. The master reported a missile landing in the water 4-500 meters away and followed by 3 small craft. No injuries or damage.
The US military conducted another strike aginst a

Houthi site in Yemen using cruise missiles.

A few weeks ago it was being noted that the vessel “Behshad” which was located in the Bab al-Mandeb strait was presumed to be an Iranian spyship keeping an eye on vessel traffic. This vessel has relocated to the Gulf of Aden sitting east of Djibouti.
The carriers continue to operate the same way. CMA CGM moves their large vessels through – as an example 15.500 TEU CMA CGM Apollon has just emerged in the Red Sea going north after it went dark some 3 days ago on approach to Gulf of Aden. Niche carriers continue full operations and Maersk continues to operate US Flag vessels as the only exception to their round-Africa policy.
Maersk announced a Transit Disruption Surcharge for cargo on vessels affected by the disruptions. The surcharge applies to bookings confirmed from 21 Dec and with departure date as from 28 Jan. It is 400 USD/FFE for all shipments diverted from Suez.
The SCFI spot rate index saw the Asia-N.Europe rate increase to 3103 USD/TEU. This is up from 1000 before the crisis but clearly below the pandemic where it peaked just below 8000
41 vessels of all types are transiting the Bab al-Mandeb strait which is less than the count around 50 seen in the days before the coalition attack. It does not appear that the coalition attacks have deterred the locally operating container lines from continuing operations
6 days ago, a news story in Israeli newsmedia Globes stated that COSCO was suspending services to Israel. A statement the Chinese company have not responded to anywhere – at least as far as I can see. It does appear that COSCO have temporarily stopped bookings due to “operational reasons”, at least that is what I heard from a few different agencies. But before anyone reads major global geopolitical intentions into this, then consider the incongruency with their actual operational pattern. 
I have seen speculation that this is the Chinese abiding by the Houthies’ requirement to boycott Israel and hence resume usage of the Suez Canal – and in turn restart the Belt&Road route and leave the fighting in the Middle East to the Western nations. But this theory, at least for now, does not match the facts on the ground. 

Below images are examples of some of COSCO’s major vessels on Asia-Europe services. One eastbound and one westbound. The tracks shown are from the past 4 days. It is clear that there has been no operational attempt at all to re-direct back towards a Suez routing. Hence a theory that the Chinese are boycotting Israel in order to go through Suez again is presently not supported by facts.

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