Get a Quote


News & Media
Container shipping hit by Suez and Panama diversions

With a comprehensive network of international container shipping services, including LCL and FCL import and export operations, the U-Freight Group is ever mindful of the effects on container shipping schedules that Panama Canal draught restrictions on one side of the world and Yemen-based Houthi rebels attacking shipping transiting the Red Sea enroute to the Suez Canal on the other side, are having.Media reports and shipping line advisories indicate that diversions of carrier proforma loops are being scaled up as more services avoid the two waterways.With no sign of restrictions easing in the Panama Canal and ongoing missile and drone attacks by Houthi militia on merchant ships passing through the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, a global supply chain crisis could result.The latest attack was reported today (15 December) on the Liberian-flagged 14,993 TEU container ship Al Jasrah, operated by Hapag-Lloyd, in the Red Sea. Another attack was reported yesterday (14 December), when a missile was fired at the 10,100 TEU container ship Maersk Gibraltar.Peter Sand, chief analyst at Xeneta, an ocean freight shipping data and intelligence platform, believes the situation could have serious consequences for global supply chains."All ships transiting the Suez Canal must sail through the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden and the Houthi militia has made clear that any vessel is a target. I do not believe the Suez Canal will close, however, if there are further significant escalations then we cannot rule it out, even if it is just for a few days," he said.Sand mentioned that a closure of the Suez Canal could have a severe impact on the global shipping industry, recalling the Ever Given incident and its consequences.We are already seeing more sailings avoiding both canals and diverting to the Cape of Good Hope route in both the transpacific and Asia-Europe trade lanes.Based on eeSea data, the Loadstar magazine reported this week that there are 43 container vessels set to divert from the Panama Canal in the next few weeks, nine of these confirmed as heading past the Cape instead of transiting the Suez Canal.It added that 22 vessels have been rescheduled to divert from their regular routes via the Suez Canal.Ocean carrier operational departments, accustomed to planning voyages well in advance with only bad weather and port congestion requiring adjustments, are in a “state of flux”, with routing options “changing by the hour”, according to an industry contact spoken to by the Loadstar.The U-Freight Group's ocean freight teams will continue to monitor the disruption in our ongoing attempts to reduce any disruption to shipments.For more information about the U-Freight Group's global ocean freight forwarding and logistics services, please contact your local U-Freight office.