Ships Fleeing the Red Sea Now Face Perilous African Weather

(Clarkson Research Services Ltd)

(Bloomberg) -- Ships sailing around the southern tip of Africa are wrestling with a bout of bad weather that has already run one vessel aground and seen another lose more than 40 containers overboard. 

CMA CGM SA said on Thursday that its ship CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin earlier this week lost 44 containers as a result of unexpectedly strong weather conditions off the South African coast, with another 30 damaged. A.P. Moller - Maersk A/S also said a ship had also been delayed arriving into Cape Town due to unfavorable sailing. 


Storms near the African coastline are playing havoc with the key route that vessels have been using to avoid attack by Yemen’s Houthi militants in the Red Sea. Container ships in particular have diverted thousands of miles around the continent, instead of running the gauntlet. Traffic near South Africa should soon return to normal with weather conditions set to improve. 

One ship ran aground northwest of Cape Town earlier this week as a result of the adverse weather, and is awaiting salvage near the country’s waters. 

The impact also shows up in data tracking how ships arrived at the Cape of Good Hope, Africa’s southern tip. The number of deep sea cargo vessels arriving there earlier this week slipped to 18 ships, the fewest for any single day since at least October, according to Clarkson Research Services Ltd., a unit of the world’s largest shipbroker. 

Vessel tracking data showed that some of the affected vessels paused their journeys to wait for the bad weather to pass. Other ships appear to have taken wider routes around the African coast. 

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