US Navy Successfully Intercepts Missiles While Protecting Maersk Ships in Red Sea

Maersk Ships Halt Red Sea Transits After US Supply Ships Hit

Explosions forced two ships operated by Maersk’s US subsidiary to turn around as they were transiting off Yemen, the company said. The ships were carrying US military supplies and were accompanied by the US Navy.

“While en route, both ships reported seeing explosions close by, and the US Navy accompaniment also intercepted multiple projectiles,” Maersk said. As a result, the company has suspended Red Sea transits by vessels of its US subsidiary.

A spokesperson for Yemen’s Houthi military forces said they fired ballistic missiles at several US warships protecting two US commercial vessels.

Both ships are operated by Maersk Line, Limited (MLL), its US subsidiary that carries cargo for the US government. They are enrolled in programs run by the US Defense Department to transport forces, supplies and equipment during times of war or national emergency.

The vessels and crew were unharmed and were being escorted back to the Gulf of Aden by the US Navy, Maersk said. The Houthi military spokesperson stated that Houthi forces targeted US warships with ballistic missiles in a “clash” that lasted over two hours, leading to a US warship being directly hit and the two commercial vessels having to withdraw and return.

A US official denied any ships were hit, but the US Central Command said separately that Houthi forces fired three anti-ship ballistic missiles toward a US-flagged container ship as it was transiting the Gulf of Aden, with no reported injuries or damage to the ship.

Following the escalation of risk, Maersk said it would suspend transits in the region until further notice. Seafarers remain in the firing line, and there are concerns about the impact on US-flag vessels, which, in recent weeks, have been subjected to what nine unions called “the most significant attacks on the United States Merchant Marine in more than half a century.”

US maritime labor organizations have called for necessary protection from the US military as ships transit the increasingly treacherous waters of the Red Sea.