French container shipping giant CMA CGM has announced suspension of all its Red Sea transit due to security risks, Bloomberg has reported Friday, adding to a growing list of major firms now deeming the area too unsafe.
The Bloomberg note additionally confirms that “CMA CGM will keep operating in the northern Red Sea but will not send its fleets through the southern part that is unavoidable for any vessel seeking to use Egypt’s Suez Canal to go between Europe and Asia.” With every addition of a shipping major, there’s yet further confirmation that the US-led ‘Operation Prosperity Guardian’ is failing.
“Hundreds of container ships and large numbers of oil tankers and commodity carriers have elected to avoid the area altogether,” Bloomberg underscores.
Until this week, CMA CGM had continued sending some vessels through the vital transit passage despite the almost daily Houthi missile and drone attacks, but which have been supported by French navy escort. But at this point it appears even the large Western warship presence isn’t enough.
This week, the US Navy saw its closest call yet when a Houthi-launched cruise missile came within a mere mile of the destroyer USS Gravely.
Details have only just emerged late in the week based on the accounts of several US defense officials. Presumably other longer range anti-air defenses failed as the missile was inbound close the ship. CNN describes:
In the past, these missiles have been intercepted by US destroyers in the area at a range of eight miles or more, the officials said. But the USS Gravely had to use its Close-In Weapon System (CIWS) for the first time since the US began intercepting the Houthi missiles late last year, which ultimately succeeded in downing the missile, officials said.
The CIWS, an automated machine gun designed for close-range intercepts, is one of the final defensive lines the ship has to shoot down an incoming missile when other layers of defense have failed to intercept it.
So this “last line of defense” which utilizes a 20 mm radar-guided canon had to be activated. The mounted weapon is a General Dynamics and Raytheon-produced ship defense system which engages closely inbound targets…
Wow, the USS Gravely had to use its Phalanx CIWS against a Houthi cruise missile per a U.S. official to CNN.
This is essentially the ships last layer of defense against any incoming attacks.
(The video below shows one in action!) pic.twitter.com/I1SYYydbbZ
— Global: Military-Info (@Global_Mil_Info) January 31, 2024
Fox News’ Pentagon correspondent Lucas Tomlinson has said this week marks the “first time in history CIWS (‘sea-wiz’) has been used in combat from a warship to destroy an incoming cruise missile seconds away from impact.
What has been clear based on other recent incidents is that Houthi drones and missiles are in some instances slipping through the Western navel coalitions ‘defense umbrella’.
We detailed a week ago how the US Navy essentially “lost a battle at sea” given that a missile landed in the water very close to a commercial vessel which was being escorted by no less than three US warships. During that time two American merchantmen – the Maersk Detroit and the Maersk Chesapeake – had been attempting to run the Bab al-Mandeb from south to north while being covered by the USS Gravely. But as with this fresh incident of the Gravely’s CIWS system having to engage at close range, one missile apparently slipped through in that Jan.17 encounter.
Below is a very different ‘close call’…
The MK-15 Phalanx CIWS, a defense system on U.S. Navy ships, can automatically track and target threats.
Here it’s shown targeting a commercial aircraft, likely in semi-automatic mode. pic.twitter.com/d3sUeo2n3C
— VisionaryVoid (@VisionaryVoid) January 30, 2024