Merchant ships in the Red Sea are finding new ways to avoid attacks by Houthi fighters in Yemen. A livestock transporter, Cattle troop, altered its targeting signal to “all crew Muslims” as it approached the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, a move believed to be an attempt to ensure safe passage by appealing to the Houthis as co-religionists. The ship later returned to Iraq’s Umm Qasr after crossing the strait.
The change in targeting signal was a message to the Houthis, who have been targeting ships linked to Israel and its allies in an effort to pressure them over the war in Gaza. This campaign has disrupted global shipping and increased transportation costs. In the past, merchant ships have used signals like “No Relationship with Israel” to avoid Houthi attacks. The Togo-flagged Cattle Force, owned by the United Arab Emirates-based Swedish Management, is sanctioned by the US due to its alleged involvement in Iran’s oil and petrochemical exports.
Overall, merchant ships in the region are finding creative ways to navigate the dangers posed by Houthi fighters, while also dealing with the economic impact of increased transportation costs and disruptions to global shipping.