Burst! Missile attack on Maersk container ship (ships advised to exercise caution and report any suspicious activity)

On Thursday afternoon, a container ship operated by Danish shipping company Maersk called the Maersk Gibraltar was hit by a missile. Maersk has confirmed that the ship was indeed attacked. "Maersk is aware of the incident that took place in relation to the Maersk Gibraltar, which was en route from Salalah, Oman, to the port of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where the crew and vessel are safe. At this time, Maersk is still working to establish the facts of the incident." "The safety of our crew and vessels is our top priority and we are taking all possible safety measures to ensure they are safe from harm," a Maersk spokesman said.

Thankfully, the missile missed the ship, and the Danish shipping company issued an appeal: "Recent attacks on commercial vessels in the Bab el-Mandeb Strait are very worrying. The current situation endangers the lives of seafarers and is unsustainable for global trade. As the global shipping industry cannot solve this problem on its own, we call for political action to ensure a swift de-escalation of the situation."

According to the UK Maritime Trade Organisation (UKMTO), the attack took place near the Bab El-Mandeb Strait in the Red Sea. "Ships are advised to exercise caution and report any suspicious activity," UKMTO wrote. This makes the Danish shipping group the latest in a series of shipping companies to be attacked near the Red Sea in the past month. Prior to the missile attack, the ship was reportedly ordered by the Houthis to change course and sail into Yemeni waters, and the ship positioning AIS has not been turned on since November 20. It was en route from Salalah, Oman, to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Maersk Gibraltar was built in 2016 and flies the Hong Kong flag with a capacity of 10,100TEU. The vessel is managed by SEASPAN SHIP MANAGEMENT LTD.

The ship, which serves MAERSK's ME2 route between Europe and the Middle East, was on Voyage 405 at the time of the incident, involving HAMBURG SUD, Maersk, MCC, SEAGO and SEALAND.

Meanwhile, UKMTO reported that on the afternoon of December 14, in the Arabian Sea, about 400 nautical miles east of Socotra, a cargo ship received a distress signal via very high frequency (VHF) with an unidentified person on board. No other details were given, nor the name of the ship. Most likely, it was a Bulgarian bulk carrier, RUEN, whose coordinates matched those given by UKMTO and was en route from Singapore to Turkey.

The Irish shipping company Ardmore was attacked on Wednesday night. Just a few days earlier, the Norwegian ship MT Strinda had suffered a similar attack.

Previous attacks were carried out by Yemen's Houthis, who warned ships against sailing to Israel following the war in the Gaza Strip. It's not clear who attacked the Danish ship.

Back in late November, Maersk announced that it had diverted a number of ships due to the threat in the Red Sea. That's when the two container ships, Lisa and Maersk Pangani, were told to execute a new sailing plan to avoid sailing in the Red Sea.

According to a customer brief, the changes were due to "unforeseen and unavoidable circumstances." However, Maersk told Shipping Watch that the Danish shipping group had changed its route due to the ongoing violence between Israel and the militant group Hamas in the Middle East.