Houthis Target Two More Merchant Ships with New Attacks
The Houthi militants targeted both a British and an American ship overnight as they vowed to continue their attacks. This came just a day after the UK’s Defense Secretary Grant Shapps said the UK believed the militants still had “an appetite” to continue targeting ships despite three rounds of joint U.S.-UK strikes and multiple missions by the U.S. destroying equipment and arms in the Houthi held areas of Yemen. The UK-managed vessel, a 12,000-dwt general cargo ship named Morning Tide, was southbound having transited the Suez Canal on February 2 and appears to be displaying a message on its AIS “Chinese Ownership.” The ship is registered in Barbados. Despite the attempt to avoid targeting, the UK Maritime Trade Organizations and other reporting agencies are saying the ship was targeted while approximately 57 miles west of Hudaydah, Yemen. The reports are that the captain and crew observed small boats approaching and attempted to take evasive maneuvers.
Trade Lane Upheavals Divert More Container Cargo to U.S. West Coast
With the Panama Canal restricted by drought and the missile-prone Red Sea abandoned by ocean carriers, U.S. West Coast container ports are getting a back-to-the-future moment – back to the days when they had an ample share of the box shipments from Asia to the East Coast. The Pamana Canal is currently allocating 24 slots per day for east-west transits, down by a third from the normal 36 slots. This has driven up the price and the waiting time for canal-bound shipping and has discouraged shipowners from using the waterway. Asia-U.S. East Coast services that skip the Red Sea must go around the Cape of Good Hope instead, adding thousands of nautical miles to the voyage. For container ships, this equates to an additional 10-14 days of sailing time, plus an extra bunkering stop for smaller vessels. Luckily for U.S. East Coast retailers and consumers, there is another way to get goods to market: the vast, unencumbered Pacific Ocean. Given the disruption for all-water routes to the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, ″[retailers] have decided to bring cargo into the West Coast ports and then use intermodal rail to get the cargo back to the East Coast,” National Retail Federation VP Jonathan Gold said in congressional testimony last week.
US Indicts Iranian Oil Network, Individuals, Tankers, and Seeks Oil Cargo
The U.S. Justice Department revealed on Friday three sweeping legal cases launched in U.S. federal courts in New York and the District of Columbia aimed at interrupting the Iranian oil trade. They revealed a widespread network launched by Iran starting in 2018 to avoid Trump-era sanctions as well as targeting a range of companies, individuals, and another tanker operation involved in the trade. In addition to the prosecution of multiple individuals, the U.S. is seizing more than $100 million, sanctioning a Chinese front company, and moving for a civil forfeiture of more than 500,000 barrels of Iranian oil. The details of the three cases were announced just hours before the U.S. confirmed it had also launched air assaults on more than 85 targets in seven strike locations in Iraq and Syria. Using long-range bombers sent from the United States and other elements, the U.S. said it unleashed more than 125 precision-guided munitions.
FedEx fleet restructure poses threat to freighter operators
FedEx has portrayed its new air network redesign in terms of streamlining the high-cost overnight parcel operation, but internal communications show the express delivery giant also sees an opportunity to aggressively go after heavyweight cargo booked by logistic providers to offset slower growth in the main express product and declining postal business. Dedicating fixed space to third-party freight would be a big change and a potential threat to other cargo airlines, experts say. The new strategy de-emphasizes the hub-and-spoke system originally built for speed and global connectivity. Instead, a three-pronged approach prioritizes density and improved cash flow by better segmenting shipments between owned freighters, partner airlines, road transport and deferred freight.
FedEx, UPS and DHL Express offer excess capacity on their airlines at bargain rates compared to for-hire freighter operators because the main parcel product covers the fixed cost base — much like passenger airlines enhance margins by selling available belly space to shippers. All-cargo airlines are challenged to compete with widebody passenger airlines, which often can offer lower rates because operating costs are allocated to the passenger business