Red Sea Shipping Disrupted as Oil Tankers Alter Course Following Retaliatory Strikes Against Houthis

WASHINGTON – The United States and Britain launched joint airstrikes against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, prompting at least four oil tankers to divert their course mid-voyage to avoid the Red Sea. The decision to retaliate comes after a series of attacks by the Houthi rebels targeting commercial vessels, raising concerns about international security and disrupting maritime traffic.

According to tracking data from the London Stock Exchange Group and Kpler, four ships, namely the Toya, Diyyinah-I, Stolt Zulu, and Navig8 Pride LHJ, changed their routes over a span of 4.5 hours to steer clear of the Red Sea. Danish oil tanker group Torm has also temporarily ceased its vessels’ travel through the southern Red Sea.

President Biden authorized the airstrikes, stating that they were a direct response to the Houthi attacks on international maritime vessels in the Red Sea, including the use of anti-ship ballistic missiles for the first time in history. Lt. Gen. Alex Grynkewich, the head of U.S. Air Force Central Command, reported deliberate strikes on over 60 targets at 16 Iranian-backed Houthi militant locations.

The strikes were carried out with coalition air and maritime strike assets, utilizing U.S. Naval Forces Central Command aircraft and Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles from surface and sub-surface platforms. The U.S. administration has been closely monitoring the situation’s economic implications. While some shippers have opted for alternate routes, leading to longer shipping times, the impact on the U.S. economy has been minimal thus far, according to National Economic Adviser Lael Brainard.

The retaliatory strikes and the diversion of oil tankers highlight the escalating tensions in the Middle East as the Houthi rebels continue their aggression. These incidents pose a significant threat to international security and regional stability. Efforts to navigate these challenges will require continued close monitoring and decisive action to safeguard the interests of maritime commerce and ensure the safety of commercial vessels.

Key points to note include the joint U.S.-U.K. airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen, the diversion of oil tankers to avoid the Red Sea, and the minimal economic impact on the U.S. economy thus far. The attacks serve as a response to the Houthi rebels’ aggression and pose concerns for international security and maritime traffic.