At least four oil tankers reportedly turned around mid-voyage Friday to avoid entering the Red Sea after the U.S. and Britain launched joint airstrikes against the Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen.
The strikes come after weeks of aggression from Houthi rebels in the region, who have targeted commercial vessels in a series of incidents that have raised international security concerns and disrupted maritime traffic.
Four ships on Friday – identified as the Toya, Diyyinah-I, Stolt Zulu and Navig8 Pride LHJ – diverted course over 4.5 hours to avoid the Red Sea, Reuters is reporting, citing tracking data from the London Stock Exchange Group and Kpler.
Danish oil tanker group Torm also announced Friday that it has temporarily stopped allowing its vessels to travel through the southern Red Sea, according to Reuters.
President Biden said he had authorized the strikes “in direct response to unprecedented Houthi attacks against international maritime vessels in the Red Sea — including the use of anti-ship ballistic missiles for the first time in history.”
Lt. Gen. Alex Grynkewich, the head of U.S Air Force Central Command, said there were “deliberate strikes on over 60 targets at 16 Iranian-backed Houthi militant locations, including command and control nodes, munitions depots, launching systems, production facilities and air defense radar systems.”
“These strikes were comprised of coalition air and maritime strike and support assets from across the region, including U.S. Naval Forces Central Command aircraft and Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles launched from surface and sub-surface platforms,” he also said.
When asked about the security situation in the Red Sea at the White House press briefing on Monday, National Economic Adviser Lael Brainard said, “We are very focused on the economic side, on monitoring potential effects on the U.S. economy.
“So far, we really have seen very little effect on the U.S. economy. Some shippers are taking alternate routes that is leading to longer shipping times,” she added. “But so far, that really hasn’t had an effect on the U.S. economy.”