skip to main content
skip to main content
Global Search Configuration

Red Sea Update: Waves of Houthi attacks fail to dent daily transits through Bab el Mandeb chokepoint

More Data Storytelling

The recent spate of attacks on commercial shipping in the Red Sea, including two incidents in which vessels were abandoned and one ultimately sank, has had no initial effect on Bab el Mandeb transits, according to Lloyd’s List Intelligence data.

Some 224 cargo-carrying vessels, over 10,000 dwt, transited the Bab el Mandeb in the week ended June 16. This includes transits where the Automatic Identification System tracker was disabled.

The week prior, June 3 to June 9, a total of 221 ships passed through the chokepoint.

Two of the more serious incidents involved the bulk carrier Tutor (IMO: 9942627), while another involved the general cargoship Verbena (IMO: 9522075).

The former sunk after being targeted by an explosive boat and a missile on June 12. One seafarer was killed in the attack.

Verbena was abandoned after being victim to two separate attacks on June 13.

Despite the severity of attacks, there has been no immediate effect on daily transits through the Bab el Mandeb, although there has been a wider downward trend over the past month.



Sailings through the Bab el Mandeb started to stabilise at the end of February, and for a 12-week period there was little change in total traffic volumes.

Over the past four weeks, transits have decreased 7%, with 858 passings recorded between May 20 and June 16.

When measuring transits by sum of dwt, the drop is more exaggerated at 12%.

The difference between the number of transits measurement and dwt suggests smaller vessels are passing through the Bab el Mandeb.

In the week ended June 16, the average ship size transiting the Bab el Mandeb was 68,386 dwt. This is the lowest figure recorded since at least the end of 2022.

In the months since the Houthis started their aggression campaign in the Red Sea, the number of ships willing to sail the shipping lanes outside their territory has plummeted.

In November 2023, some 2,153 different ships transited the Bab el Mandeb. In May, this figure was 845.

Security analysts anticipate further disruption.

The role the Iran-backed Houthis now play on the global stage is a new one for the militias. To maintain this position, the group will evolve their strategy to keep influencing international trade.

“There is a need for the Houthis to remain current. This means continuously developing their target profile, the types of weapons they use and the area of operation,” said EOS Risk Group head of advisory Martin Kelly.

It would not be a surprise if other new weapon systems are introduced in the near term, he added.

“The Houthis’ intent to inflict serious damage on their targets has increased, demonstrated by an uptick in complex attacks using a combination of weaponry and in several bouts,” said Kennedy.

The complexity of attacks combined with the volume of weapons launched from Houthi territory in Yemen will make it more difficult for naval forces to balance intercepting incoming assaults while escorting vessels, which could mean more total losses, he warns.

Lloyd’s List subscribers can view the latest insight and data, including Bab el Mandeb transits by vessel type and the number of daily active vessels in the region, in our Red Sea Risk hub here.


Geopolitical Risk webinar

Join us on July 3 for the second in our series of webinars focussed on Geopolitical Risk, titled ‘Shipping’s evolving security threats’.

Joining our team of maritime analysts this time will be experts from Janes, the trusted global agency for open-source defence and security intelligence.

Shipping has become collateral damage amid an increasingly complex and volatile geopolitical environment.

The vulnerability of key maritime chokepoints has seen trade lanes rapidly redrawn and maritime security thrust back up the political agenda, but it is not just the growing threat of physical attack that needs to be rapidly reconsidered.

In this pivotal year of global elections, with power blocs squaring up to each other over trade, energy and industrial security, the ownership and control of maritime infrastructure and fleets is now a political priority, and often a target.

This webinar explores why it is no longer sufficient to consider maritime security on a reactive and geographically specific basis.

For more information and to register, follow this link

Secure Your Place Today