Germany to send new frigate to protect ships in the Red Sea


Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said the “Hamburg” will replace the “Hessen,” which left the zone on Saturday

Germany said on Saturday it will send a new frigate to the Red Sea in August to help secure maritime traffic, which has been disrupted for months due to Houthi attacks.

Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said the “Hamburg” will replace the “Hessen,” which left the zone on Saturday. The “Hessen” had been deployed in the area on Feb. 23 as part of the EU’s “Aspides” mission to protect ships.

The statement said the “Hamburg” had escorted 27 merchant ships in the intervention zone and had, on four occasions, repulsed drone and missile attacks by the Houthis. It had around 240 military personnel on board.

The Houthis said on Thursday they had attacked almost 100 vessels in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden in months of strikes. They began attacking ships in the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea in November, a campaign they say is intended as a show of support for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

The attacks on the vital trade route have been met with retaliatory strikes by US and British forces since January.

The US set up a multinational task force late last year to “protect” Red Sea shipping. Recent Houthi attacks on merchant shipping in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden have also affected the global maritime transport chain.

Merchant ships and seafarers are increasingly in peril at sea as attacks escalate in the Middle East, the industry said in a letter released on Friday. It said the UN must do more to protect supply chains.

In a letter sent to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, the world’s leading shipping industry associations said Iran’s seizure on April 13 of the MSC Aries container ship 50 nautical miles off the UAE coast “once again highlighted the intolerable situation where shipping has become a target.” “Innocent seafarers have been killed. Seafarers are being held hostage,” the letter said. “The world would be outraged if four airliners were seized and held hostage with innocent souls onboard. Regrettably, there does not seem to be the same response or concern (for ships and their crew members).”

India’s Foreign Ministry said on Thursday that an Indian woman who was a mariner on the MSC Aries had returned to the country. It added that it was in touch with the other 16 Indian crew members still being held aboard the vessel.

The industry letter said: “Seafarers and the maritime sector are neutral and must not be politicized.” The letter added: “Given the continually evolving and severe threat profile within the area, we call on you for enhanced coordinated military presence, missions, and patrols in the region to protect our seafarers against any further possible aggression.”

Iran has also seized other vessels in international waters in recent years, heightening risks for merchant shipping in the area.

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