Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Industry majors join forces to face the situation in the Red Sea

About 15% of global trade flows through this region – 
making it one of the most important waterways on earth.
Credit: IBF

From Safety4Sea by The Editorial Team

In response to the persistent attacks by Houthis in the Red Sea area, international organizations with significant influence are actively seeking solutions on multiple fronts. 
The Houthis release an infographic showing all the ships that have been attacked

Continuous attacks posing threats

These ongoing attacks have become a cause for concern within the global community, posing security challenges not only for the crew members but also for the broader global supply chain.
Just yesterday, British maritime security firm Ambrey reported that a Belize-flagged, UK-registered, and Lebanese-operated open hatch general cargo ship came under attack in the Bab al-Mandab Strait, 35 nautical miles south of Yemen’s Al Mukha.

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) received the report, confirming an explosion in close proximity to the vessel, causing damage.
Fortunately, all crew members are reported to be safe.

This attack marks one of the many that have taken place since November.
In response, the industry strives to address these issues and find effective measures to safeguard both personnel and the integrity of the worldwide logistics network.
Yemen's Houthis attacked the British ship Rubymar in the Gulf of Aden, Al Mayadeen reports.
The Houthis said the ship was seriously damaged and was on the verge of sinking, the crew had been rescued from the water.
Joint statement by the International Transport Workers’ Federation and the Joint Negotiating Group

The International Bargaining Forum (IBF) social partners are increasingly concerned about the actions taken by Houthi forces that are threatening the safety of transiting seafarers and vessels.

Following continued incidents in the Southern Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, the IBF Warlike Operations Area Committee (WOAC) convened on 7 February 2024 and agreed additional measures to support seafarers’ safety and welfare.

In response to these attacks, the IBF WOAC have agreed to expand the High Risk Area to include the Gulf of Aden and surrounding waters, please see the latest updated IBF list of designated risk areas for more detailed information.
Credit: IBF

Additionally, the IBF WOAC agreed:
  • To include into the existing conditions for the designated IBF High Risk Area for the Southern Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, the seafarers’ right to refuse to sail into the areawith repatriation at company’s cost and compensation equal to two months basic wage.
  • The two months basic pay compensation shall not be applicable if the seafarer is transferred to another vessel belonging or related to the same owner/manager, on the same rank and wages and all other terms.
  • There shall be no loss of earnings or entitlements during the transfer and the company shall be liable for all costs and subsistence during the transfer.
  • Seafarers must give seven days’ notice prior to entering the area, given the logistical constraints of passage and the difficulty to facilitate disembarkation in a safe port and mobilise repatriation in the area.
  • Seafarers who are onboard vessels within the High Risk Area or are due to transit into the High Risk Area within the seven-day window from the initial date of publication, will not be able to exercise their right to repatriation.
  • Collaboration between local and international governments, flag states, ports and airports will be crucial for seafarers to be repatriated safely and expeditiously, should they request it.
  • In the event that a vessel which was not scheduled to sail through the High Risk Area but has received instructions to cross within the seven-day notice period, seafarers will have the right to refuse to sail in the area, be repatriated at the company’s cost and receive compensation equal to two months basic pay.
Regardless of what is agreed between the social partners, the safety and security of seafarers is a global responsibility that requires global solutions.
Therefore, the IBF WOAC urges the international community to collaborate with local governments in the area to support international shipping and to ensure the safety of seafarers so that vessels can transit free from threat and aggression, as is their right under international law.
The decision to include seafarers’ right to refuse to sail was not a step taken lightly as this could negatively impact global trade, but the safety of the seafarers is paramount.
… said IBF in their statement

In addition, the IBF WOAC strongly condemns the actions of the Houthi forces that hijacked the car carrier Galaxy Leader on 19 November 2023, the crew of which are still being held hostage.

The social partners also urged all governments that have an interest in international shipping to do whatever they can to secure the immediate release of the Galaxy Leader and its crew, and for the Houthis to immediately cease further hostile activities.

Galaxy Leader ship
Today marks the three-month anniversary since the Houthis seized the Galaxy Leader and its 25 seafarers in the Red Sea.
Photo: Screenshot from video shared by Yemeni Armed Forces

Joint industry statement on the Galaxy Leader

Also on the subject of the Galaxy Leader, as Monday 19th February 2024 – marks the three-month anniversary since the Houthis seized the Galaxy Leader and its 25 seafarers in the Red Sea.
The crew has remained with the Houthis since then.

The maritime industry has joined together from around the world to express their concern for the seafarers who have been held hostage, and call on the Houthis to release the crew of the Galaxy Leader.

It was emphasized in the statement that the 25 seafarers comprising the crew of the Galaxy Leader are regarded as innocent victims of the ongoing aggression against world shipping.

The challenging situation they face is a significant concern, given the continuous attacks on the merchant shipping community.
It was underscored that all possible efforts should be undertaken by international organizations and states to ensure the release of the seafarers.
It is abhorrent that seafarers were seized by military forces and that they have been kept from their families and loved ones for too long. All 25 crew members of the Galaxy Leader must be released now

… concluded the organizations in their statement

Operation Aspides

Additionally, the European Union Naval Force (EUNAVFOR) has officially launched Operation Aspides, a new maritime mission aimed at addressing the increasing instability in the Red Sea.
This initiative comes in response to the escalating disruption of shipping in the region and is designed to complement the ongoing U.S.-led Operation Prosperity Guardian.

The formation of Operation Aspides signifies a unified effort by European Union member states, who, despite some divisions over the conflict in Gaza, reached a consensus in January to create a naval mission in the Red Sea.
The primary objective of Aspides is to strengthen deterrence in the area and provide defense for commercial vessels facing threats from Houthi attacks.

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