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Greece Sends Frigate to the Red Sea to Protect Shipping

Greece Red Sea shipping
Greece will participate in the multinational force led by the United States in the Red Sea, Credit: Hellenic Navy

Greece announced on Thursday it is sending a frigate to the Red Sea to participate in the multinational force led by the United States to protect shipping following recent attacks by militias from Yemen.

Ten countries have already expressed an interest in participating in “Operation Guardian of Prosperity” to protect shipping from Iranian-backed Houthi militias who have launched drone and missile attacks against ships in one of the world’s most important waterways for global trade.

The Houthis, who control much of Yemen, say the shipping attacks are a response to Israel’s military campaign in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip and have said they will continue until Israel stops the offensive. Fears are growing that the broader world economy could be disrupted as commercial vessels are forced to reroute.

Because of the attacks and the threat of future assaults, several of the world’s largest shipping firms, including Mediterranean Shipping Company and Maersk, have diverted vessels away to a much longer route around Africa’s Cape of Good Hope and then up the west side of the continent.

BP has also paused all shipments of oil through the Red Sea, blaming the “deteriorating security situation”.

The longer journeys will add at least 10 days shipping times and cost companies millions of dollars.

On Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin held a videoconference with 43 countries, the EU and NATO, telling them that “attacks had already impacted the global economy and would continue to threaten commercial shipping if the international community did not come together to address the issue collectively.”

Greece’s advice for Red Sea shipping

A team of Hellenic Navy staff is expected to travel to Bahrain, where the US-sponsored operation’s coordination center will be located, to be briefed on the details of the planned mission.

The multinational operation in the Red Sea is unlike any other operation launched by the Hellenic Navy as it requires the development of anti-ballistic capabilities, which they do not have.

Greece recently advised commercial vessels sailing in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden to avoid Yemeni waters, keep only the necessary crew on the bridge and follow alerts issued by maritime authorities to avoid attacks in the area.

Greek ship-owners control about 20 percent of the world’s commercial vessels in terms of carrying capacity.

According to a document seen by Reuters, vessels should also conduct fire drills for regular checks of their safety equipment before they reach Yemeni shores, and are advised to sail through the southern Red Sea and the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait at night.


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