Bangladeshi oceangoing vessels are steering clear of the Red Sea following repeated attacks by Houthi rebels on merchant ships.
To address the heightened risks, the Department of Shipping in Bangladesh issued transit guidelines for Bangladesh-flagged vessels, focusing on the Gulf of Aden, Bab al Mandeb Strait, Red Sea, and the Yemeni coast—the prime areas targeted by the Houthis.
Chairman of Bangladesh Ocean Going Ship Owners’ Association, Azam J Chowdhury, affirmed the decision of ship operators to avoid the risky route. However, this shift increases fuel costs and additional war risk insurance for longer alternative routes.
The circular issued by the Department of Shipping highlighted the vulnerability of merchant ships with ties to Israel, cautioning about potential collateral damage even for vessels not engaged in Israeli trade.
Bangladeshi ships are urged to register with the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations and maintain continuous communication with the Combined Maritime Forces through a voluntary reporting scheme to navigate these risks. The Department also emphasized the need for a ship- and voyage-specific risk assessment before entering the region.
With 99 Bangladeshi oceangoing vessels, including bulk carriers, oil tankers, and container vessels, frequently using the route between Asia and Europe, the shipping regulatory body recommended adhering to ‘Best Management Practices-5’ for safe transits.
In a related incident earlier in 2022, a bomb attack at a Ukrainian port damaged a BSC ship, resulting in a fatality. With the ongoing Red Sea crisis, stakeholders must exercise utmost caution and implement risk-mitigation measures for secure maritime operations.