CULines launches Red Sea service as Houthi target area expands

   Release date: January 12, 2024      Hits: 3011    Comment: 0    
Note: China United Lines has joined the latest opportunists to launch a container shipping service through the Red Sea, despit

China United Lines has joined the latest opportunists to launch a container shipping service through the Red Sea, despite the Houthi attacks – including a hit on a vessel in the Gulf of Aden last night.

The US Central Command said in a post on X (formerly Twitter) that Houthi militants had fired a missile from Yemen at 4pm local time, which struck the Ultramax bulk carrier Gibraltar Eagle, owned by US-listed Eagle Bulk Shipping about 95 nautical miles south-east of Aden, according to UK Maritime Trade Operations.

Despite a resulting fire in one of Gibraltar Eagle’s cargo holds, “the ship has reported no injuries or significant damage, and is continuing its journey,” reported Centcom.

Ami Daniel, CEO of Maritime AI company Windward, believes the implications of the attack are significant.

“Firstly, vessels under direct threat from the Houthis have expanded to any vessel with a US/GB affiliation (approximately 4,000 globally). Secondly, the attack took place in the Gulf of Aden, vs Yemen. That expands the threatened area and makes it much harder for the coalition to defend these vessels.”

Mr Daniel said the risk for any ship “might be too big, and can effectively close the Suez Canal for maritime traffic”.

He added: “There are already several other companies stopping tanker transits via this shipping route. This can affect about 10% of the world’s oil and about the same amount of dry bulk exports, directly impacting the price of petrol.”

Meanwhile CULines’ new Red Sea Express (REX) Service, calls at Qingdao, Shanghai, Ningbo, Nansha, Jeddah, Qingdao, with a single 2,786 teu ship, CUL Manila. The service turns in around 30 to 35 days on a monthly frequency.

Primarily an intra-Asia carrier, CULines quit the long-haul lanes last year as freight rates tanked after the Covid-induced boom. But Linerlytica said Red Sea diversions had reduced the number of ships able to serve the region. The Far East-Persian Gulf lane now has 1.17m teu of capacity, 4% less than last week.

Diversions from the Red Sea round the Cape have improved shipping lines’ fortunes, with the Shanghai Containerised Freight Index reaching a 16-month high on 12 January. Shanghai-Persian Gulf dipped slightly, to $2,224/teu, but still much higher than last month’s $1,175/teu.

And SeaLead Shipping, which has been targeting Red Sea cargo and expanding its fleet, chartered two more ships last week: the 2023-built 4,636 teu Zhong Gu Shen Yang; and 2008-built 1,702 teu Haian East, respectively fixed from Chinese operator Zhonggu Logistics and Vietnamese operator Hai An Transport. Zhong Gu Shen Yang was fixed for four to six months at $22,000/day while Haian East was chartered for three to five months at $14,500/day.

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