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International Chamber of Shipping statement on the Red Sea ship attacks

15 December 2023

The Bahamas flagged Galaxy Leader, operated by Japanese company NYK, and owned by British Company Ray Car Carriers was seized by Houthi forces on 19 November. Subsequently there have been an increasing number of attacks against merchant ships.

ICS deplores the actions of the Houthis in the strongest terms and calls for the immediate cessation of these attacks. These are unacceptable acts of aggression which threaten the lives of innocent seafarers and the safety of merchant shipping.

These attacks are a flagrant breach of international law. States with influence in the region should, as a matter of urgency, work to stop the actions of the Houthis in attacking seafarers and merchant ships, and de-escalate what is now an extremely serious threat to international trade.

Some companies have already rerouted around the Cape of Good Hope to avoid Houthi aggression which adds cost and delay to global trade. Industry is extremely concerned about these attacks on shipping and is understood to be considering additional actions which could lead to further ships diverting to this route, with further potential impacts on trade. The Red Sea is a crucial waterway, linking Europe and Asia. Currently 12% of global trade passes through the Red Sea.

ICS lauds the actions and presence of naval forces so far in intervening against the aggressors and hopes and expects further commitments of the same nature in the very near future. Furthermore, the full maritime security architecture in the region should be brought to bear to end these attacks and protect our seafarers and merchant shipping.

Industry will continue to provide guidance to shipowners and operators, and work with military powers in the region to mitigate the threat to shipping presented by the Houthis.