Calls to Suspend Red Sea Shipping After Deadly Houthi Attack

True Confidence
Indian Navy responded to the burning True Confidence after it was hit by a Houthi missile (Indian Navy)

Published Mar 7, 2024 1:32 PM by The Maritime Executive

The international community including governments and the shipping industry has come together in its universal condemnation of the attack on the bulker True Confidence which killed three and severely injured at least three other crewmembers. The United States, United Kingdom, Germany, and many others issued statements while there are also calls for all shipping to be suspended through the Red Sea.

The Indian Navy confirmed that one of its vessels conducted the rescue operation for the crew after they had abandoned ship approximately 50 nautical miles southwest of Aden. The spokesperson for the Indian Navy said they deployed small boats and a helicopter to rescue the 20 crew members and three armed guards from the burning ship. Images show the crew in the inflatable life raft.

The vessel’s owner and operator confirmed that there were 15 Filipino, four Vietnamese, and one Indian among the crew. Two of the Filipino crewmembers and one Vietnamese died in the attack. The Indian Navy transferred all the crewmembers to Djibouti where they were taken to a hospital and reports now said they are in a hotel awaiting repatriation.



“The violent attack, inhumane targeting of innocent civilians and civilian vessels on international maritime routes,” was strongly condemned by the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry. They reported that the citizen who was killed was the deputy captain of the vessel, 41-year-old, Dang Duy Kien, while the chief engineer and two other Vietnamese citizens were in good condition in a Djibouti hotel.

The Philippine Government through the Department of Foreign Affairs said it was “greatly distressed and deeply concerned.” They reported that a team from their embassy in Cairo, Egypt is on its way to Djibouti to provide assistance to the Filipino crewmembers.

“Innocent seafarers should never become collateral victims,” IMO Secretary-General Arsenio Dominguez said in a video statement.  He called for “collective action to fortify the safety,” of crewmembers at sea.

The major shipping industry associations including BIMCO, International Chamber of Shipping, Intercargo, INTERANKO, World Shipping Council, and others joined together for a joint statement. They expressed their deep concern calling the loss of life and injuries completely unacceptable. They also called for “decisive action to safeguard the lives of innocent civilian seafarers and put an end to such threats.”

Experts are predicting that this tragedy, while likely inevitable, is likely to have a significant impact on the industry both with increased costs and the likelihood of even more diversions. David Ashmore, employment lawyer at global law firm Reed Smith, emphasized the profound safety considerations and intricate challenges arising from the conflict in the Red Sea, impacting both shipowners and seafarers.“This tragedy further intensifies the difficulties in recruiting seafarers globally. In a world grappling with a shortage of maritime workforce, these safety concerns add another layer of complexity to an already challenging task,” said Ashmore.

Global trade union Nautilus International said it cannot stand by while such threats to life persist. “We believe it is time for those shipowners who are continuing to transit through the Red Sea to reassess the necessity of their decision considering recent events including the sinking of M/V Rubymar and the tragic incident onboard the M/V True Confidence,” they said in a statement from David Appleton, Head of Professional and Technical, Nautilus International. “We understand the commercial pressures faced by shipowners and the strategic importance of the Red Sea as a global shipping route. However, no commercial interests should ever take precedence over the safety and lives of our seafarers.”

The Houthi rebels barely acknowledged the loss of life while taking responsibility for the attack. They said the ship should have responded to their demands.

The information emerging appears to show the vessel was sold weeks ago to Greek shipping interests who reiterated in their statement, “This is no current connection with any U.S. entity.” Oaktree Capital Management, which was reported to be the previous owner of the vessel, declined to comment when contacted by the Associated Press and other media.

True Confidence Shipping and manager Third January Maritime of Piraeus, Greece reported the vessel is drifting well away from land. They are making salvage arrangements.