Defending Against Houthi Attacks: Strategies for Red Sea Shipping Companies

To counter maritime terrorism in the Bab al-Mandab Strait, vessels can adopt best practices developed to combat piracy. Many shipping companies choose to avoid the area altogether, but for those who must transit, reducing light emission during the night and setting up defensive hurdles such as barbed or razor wire and electric wires can help deter attacks. Activating water cannons and hiring armed security personnel are also effective deterrents. Having safe rooms for the crew to retreat to in case of attack is also crucial. Somali piracy offers a precedent for dealing with maritime terrorists, but additional measures may be necessary to counter the specific threats posed by the Houthi, who are better armed and may use helicopters in addition to fast craft to intercept and attack civilian cargo ships. The maritime community will need to consider other methods to abate such threats.