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Maritime Global Trade Roundup – June 27, 2024 

Global Trade Weekly

What’s inside?

    What can we learn by digging into the journeys and data of the three ships attacked by the Houthis recently? 

    This week’s Maritime Global Trade Roundup also looks at what was known about the 27 vessels sanctioned as part of the EU’s 14th sanctions package BEFORE the package was passed – spoiler alert: we flagged them previously. And this roundup checks in on the influence battle in the South Pacific Ocean. 

    Maritime moves fast, but we move faster. Enjoy the insights! 

    Red Sea Attacks and Impact on Maritime Trade

    • The Houthis carried out attacks on two merchant vessels, the Transworld Navigator (IMO: 9469924), a Liberian-flagged, 292-meter bulk carrier, and the Stolt Sequoia (IMO: 9235062), a Liberian-flagged, 183-meter oil/chemical tanker. Public sources noted that the Transworld Navigator was targeted in the Red Sea and the Stolt Sequoia was attacked in the Indian Ocean.
    • Windward’s Maritime AI™ platform shows that the Transworld Navigator, owned by a Greek company, departed China on May 29, arrived at Yemen’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) on June 20, 2024, and headed towards the Suez Canal.
    The Transworld Navigator’s sailing path between China and the Red Sea, May 29-June 24, 2024.
    • The Stolt Sequoia, owned by a Japanese company, departed the port of Sitra, Bahrain, on June 14, and arrived at the Indian Ocean on June 19. The vessel reported its next destination as the port of Le Havre, France, and is sailing towards The Cape of Good Hope.
    The Stolt Sequoia’s sailing path between Bahrain and the Indian Ocean, June 10-24, 2024.
    • In addition, the Houthis later attacked the MSC Sarah V (IMO: 9181675), a 294-meter Liberian-flagged container vessel owned by the Mediterranean Shipping Company, while sailing in the Arabian Sea. Based on Windward data, the vessel arrived at the Arabian Sea on June 24, after departing Panama. The vessel sailed through The Cape of Good Hope for the first time. After the attack, the vessel lost its signal, and on January 27, it was found in the Hormuz Strait, heading towards Port Khalifa, UAE.
    The MSC Sarah V’s sailing path between Panama and the UAE, May 28-June 27, 2024.
    • Windward’s Early Detection model shows that in the past week, there was a significant decrease in area visits conducted by cargo vessels in the Egyptian EEZ, which may correspond to crossing the Suez Canal. Between the weeks of June 9-15 and June 16-22, there was a 75% decrease in area visits in the Egyptian EEZ by cargo vessels. It is possible that the decrease was due to the recent attacks in the Red Sea.
    Windward’s Early Detection model showing area visits in the Egyptian EEZ by cargo vessels.
    • As seen in past weeks, the Houthis are escalating their attacks in the Red Sea, and broadening their areas of attacks to include the Indian Ocean. These attacks have a major impact on the supply chain, as seen by delays potentially caused by avoidance of sailing through the Red Sea due to the risk of attack. 

    EU Sanctions Against Russian Oil Tankers 

    • The European Union adopted its 14th sanctions package against Russia on June 24, 2024. As part of the package, 27 vessels were sanctioned, including oil and liquefied natural gas tankers, as well as one dry bulk vessel for smuggling Ukrainian grain.
    • 18 of the vessels mentioned in the sanctions were previously sanctioned by OFAC and the UK, but the remaining nine vessels have been flagged as either high or medium risk in the Windward system for at least a few months and up to two years before their recent listing. Windward data also shows that in the past two years, the nine vessels that are newly sanctioned conducted 17 dark activities, most of which were conducted in the Black Sea area.
    • In addition, Windward data shows that these vessels conducted a total of 75 commodity ship-to-ship (STS) meetings worldwide in the past two years. The majority of these meetings were conducted in Togo (16%), South Korea and Greece (13% each), and Malaysia and Malta (8% each). After the meetings, 36% arrived in Russia, 9% arrived in Spain, and 8% arrived in Cuba.
    • Windward’s new 2nd vessel criteria shows that of the 54 vessels that met with the newly sanctioned vessels – from the 75 commodity STS meetings mentioned above – the majority are crude oil tankers (39%) and oil products tankers (37%). Additionally, 11% of the vessels that met with these vessels are sanctioned (in relation to Cuba and Venezuela), 11% are high compliance risk, and 39% are moderate risk

    The “Influence Battle” in the South Pacific Ocean & Increase in Chinese Vessels

    • Open sources reported recently that the South Pacific Ocean has become a “battleground for influence” between China and the West (specifically the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand). Security analysts claim that China is exercising hard power in the area to test limits and broaden regional influence. This might lead to increased strategic competition that, in the extreme, could result in regional militarization.
    • Windward’s Early Detection model shows that in June 2024 there was a significant increase in Chinese vessels’ presence in the South Pacific Ocean, especially by Chinese fishing vessels. Data shows that between May and June 22, 2024, there was a 495% increase in the number of area visits conducted by Chinese-flagged fishing vessels in the South Pacific Ocean.
    • The month of June  2024, although not yet complete, shows the highest number of area visits conducted by Chinese-flagged fishing vessels in the area since April 2022. It should be noted that in the past four years, June has shown a decrease in area visits by Chinese fishing vessels in the South Pacific region, meaning that the June 2024 increase is an anomaly and might not be related to Chinese fishing activity. However, 60% of all vessels seen in June 2024 are classified in the Windward Maritime AI™ platform as high risk for IUU.

    Area visits in the South Pacific Ocean by Chinese-flagged fishing vessels, January 1, 2022-June 22, 2024.

    • Open sources reported that from June 30, 2024, the Chinese Coast Guard will venture out to the Pacific Ocean to operate the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission Convention Area.
    • This is an organization designed to manage and sustain migratory fish stocks in the western and central Pacific Ocean. Based on Windward’s research, almost 30% of all fishing vessels that arrived to the South Pacific Ocean in June are named according to the Chinese Maritime Militia naming convention, while another 20% are named after known CMM fleets. It is possible that some of the fishing vessels that arrived in the area are not engaged in any fishing activities, but operate in close proximity to the Chinese Coast Guard. 
    • Geopolitical events that are already significantly influencing the maritime industry could intensify. Using Windward’s new Early Detection tool can help better anticipate such events and contextualize the geopolitical impact on the maritime domain.

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