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Maersk says it will resume shipping in the Red Sea

By Michelle Toh, CNN

Hong Kong CNN  — 

Global shipping giant Maersk will restart operations in the Red Sea after suspending activity there following attacks by Iran-backed Houthi rebels on commercial vessels.

The Danish company announced Sunday that it would resume shipments in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden following the establishment of a new US-led security operation to safeguard the area.

Operation Prosperity Guardian will once again allow shipping vessels to pass through the area, Maersk said in a statement, in what it called “most welcome news for the entire industry and indeed the functionality of global trade.”

The multinational security operation includes the United Kingdom, Bahrain, Canada, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Seychelles and Spain.

Some of the world’s biggest companies, including oil giant BP, recently said they were suspending their operations in the Red Sea, also avoiding the crucial Suez Canal, following attacks on commercial ships by the Houthis, which the militants said were revenge against Israel for its military campaign against Hamas in Gaza.

Around 10 percent to 15 percent of global trade — and 30 percent of container trade — passes through the waterway connecting the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea.

Some ships were already being rerouted around the southern tip of Africa, raising concerns that a prolonged effective closure of the Suez Canal would increase freight costs and delivery times.

Maersk had diverted its vessels away from the Red Sea earlier this month, and introduced new charges to transport goods along longer routes as a result of the disruption.

In its Sunday statement, the firm said it was preparing its first vessels to resume transit through the Red Sea “as soon as operationally possible.”

“While doing so, ensuring the safety of our employees is of the utmost importance and our number one priority in handling the challenging situation,” the company added.

It stressed that while security was being enhanced, “the overall risk in the area is not eliminated at this stage.”

“Maersk will not hesitate to reevaluate the situation and once again initiate diversion plans if we deem it necessary for the safety of our seafarers,” the company said, adding that it would share details on the new arrangement in the coming days.

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