Seguridad marítima

Workers pulling in a Norwegian vessel at a shipbreaking yard in Chittagong, Bangladesh, 2008. Majority World/Universal Images Group/Getty Images

In the early morning hours of March 26, emergency workers in Baltimore received a mayday call from the Dali, a 985-foot container ship. Shortly after setting sail from the city’s port, the vessel had lost power, and with it control over its engine and navigation instruments. It was on course to hit the Francis Scott Key Bridge, an important artery for commuters and goods that spans the Patapsco River. Minutes after the call, the Dali struck one of the bridge’s pylons, causing the whole structure to collapse. First responders managed to close the bridge, but six construction workers who were filling potholes on the road, all immigrants from Central America, are presumed dead.…  Seguir leyendo »

La crisis del Mar Rojo es un nuevo golpe para las cadenas de suministro globales

En marzo de 2021 el portacontenedores Ever Given encalló en el canal de Suez. Los seis días que el canal permaneció cerrado levantaron una ola de preocupación en todo el mundo al quedar bloqueado el paso a través de esta estratégica vía por la que circula un 30 % del tráfico mundial de contenedores. El incidente provocó serios retrasos en las cadenas de suministro a nivel mundial, cuyos efectos se seguían sintiendo meses después de la crisis.

La inquietud por el caso Ever Given palidece ahora frente a la que provoca los ataques de los hutíes, un grupo insurgente yemení, en las proximidades del estrecho de Bab el-Mandeb, en la entrada del Mar Rojo, camino de los mercados europeos a través del canal de Suez.…  Seguir leyendo »

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi (L) being welcomed by Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) in Beijing, China on February 14, 2023. (Photo by Presidency of Iran / Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

A Reuters report on 26 January claimed that China recently attempted to nudge Iran into reining in Houthi attacks against civilian ships in the Red Sea.

However, the report created confusion about precisely what Beijing’s demands were.
The prevailing narrative has been that China asked Iran to refrain from impeding international shipping, and to abandon its strategy of linking such attacks to the war in Gaza. However, this is misleading.

Chinese interests only

China may indeed have pressed Iran in the past weeks. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters, ‘China has been making active efforts to ease tensions in the Red Sea from the very beginning.’…  Seguir leyendo »

Limpieza de pellets en una playa de Galicia. EFE

Llevamos ya semanas con los pellets. Seguramente la coincidencia de las elecciones en Galicia tenga que ver con la importancia que se le está dando a la caída accidental de unos contenedores del 'Toconao', algo no habitual pero si normal. Según las estadísticas, se mueven 250 millones de contenedores al año en barco. Pero solo la diezmilésima parte cae a la mar. Entre las causas figuran una declaración inexacta del peso del contenedor, lo que hace que los planos de carga sean erróneos; un trincaje defectuoso y, sobre todo, el mal tiempo.

Alguien puede pensar que debería haber formas de sujeción para reducir a cero estas caídas.…  Seguir leyendo »

Houthi followers chant slogans as they ride a vehicle in Sana'a, Yemen on 18 January 2024. (Photo by Mohammed Hamoud/Getty Images)

The US redesignation of the Houthis as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGT) represents continuing inconsistency in its policy towards Yemen – or rather the complete absence of a policy.

During its first weeks in office the Biden administration chose to revoke Trump’s decision to add the Houthis to a similar list. Now the US has rebranded them with the terrorist designation, repeating the same old ignorant mistakes, with apparently no ability to learn from even recent history.

The main difference between Trump’s designation and Biden’s is that the restrictions of the new SDGT categorization can be more easily undone in the event of a de-escalation in hostilities.…  Seguir leyendo »

Los hutíes se manifiestan en Yemen tras los ataques aéreos de Estados Unidos y Reino Unido. Mohammed Hamoud/Getty Images

Los ataques liderados por Estados Unidos y el Reino Unido contra el grupo rebelde Hutí en Yemen representan un nuevo y dramático giro en el conflicto de Oriente Medio, que podría tener implicaciones en toda la región.

Los ataques del 11 de enero de 2024 alcanzaron unos 60 objetivos en 16 emplazamientos, según el mando de las Fuerzas Aéreas estadounidenses en Oriente Medio, entre ellos en la capital de Yemen, Saná, el principal puerto de Hodeida y Saada, cuna de los hutíes en el noroeste del país.

La acción militar se produce tras semanas de advertencias de Estados Unidos a los hutíes, ordenándoles que dejen de atacar a los buques comerciales en el estratégico estrecho de Bab el-Mandeb, en el Mar Rojo.…  Seguir leyendo »

Supporters of the Houthis rallied in Yemen on Friday. Khaled Abdullah/Reuters

By striking Houthi rebel targets in Yemen with Britain on Thursday, Washington sent a searing message to both the Houthis and its Iranian backers that the United States has ended its longstanding defense-only posture in the Red Sea and is determined to stop the group’s attacks against commercial ships in regional waters.

It’s unclear whether that strategy will work, given the intransigence of the Houthis and the fact that they stand to benefit from a fight with the United States. Such a clash boosts their credentials with U.S. foes in the region and distracts from their atrocious governance of northwestern Yemen and the country’s capital.…  Seguir leyendo »

A protest in Sanaa, Yemen on January 11, 2024, against the UN Security Council resolution demanding that Houthis cease all attacks on ships in the Red Sea. (Photo by Mohammed Hamoud/Anadolu via Getty Images)

US and UK air strikes on Yemen on 11 and 12 January were characterized by the Biden administration as ‘a clear message’ that the US will not ‘ allow hostile actors to imperil freedom of navigation’ in the Red Sea. UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak described the strikes as ‘ limited, necessary and proportionate action in self-defence’.

The air strikes come after the Houthis ignored calls to end their assaults, including a private formal letter delivered to the group leadership by the UK on behalf of the international community (according to various senior Houthi leaders).

The US/ UK strikes are presumably intended as the only possible bad choice to pressure the Houthis to end their hostile activity.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Galaxy Leader cargo ship, which is partly owned by an Israeli businessman, was hijacked by Houthi militia in November. Photograph: Houthi Military Media/Reuters

Since Israel launched its devastating assault and invasion of Gaza after the 7 October attacks by Hamas militants, the world has been anxious about the war spreading into a wider conflict that consumes the Middle East. In recent weeks, the threat of an expanding conflict has centred on an unlikely place: the poorest country in the region, Yemen, which has suffered years of civil war.

In late October, the Houthi militia in Yemen began firing missiles and drones towards Israel and then moved to seize commercial ships sailing in the Red Sea. The Houthis claimed they would prevent Israeli ships – or those registered to Israeli owners – from passing through the channel until Israel stopped its attack on Gaza.…  Seguir leyendo »

A grab from handout footage released by Yemen's Huthi Ansarullah Media Centre on November 19, 2023, reportedly shows members of the rebel group during the capture of an Israel-linked cargo vessel at an undefined location in the Red Sea. ANSARULLAH MEDIA CENTRE/AFP via Getty Images

Yemen’s Ansar Allah—also known as the Houthis—poses a threat to commercial shipping in the Red Sea. From mid-November through mid-December, the group attacked at least 30 merchant ships in the area, prompting most of the world’s major shippers to reroute their vessels around the Cape of Good Hope at the southern tip of Africa. The economic effects of these attacks have yet to be fully realized, but already insurances rates for shipping lines have doubled. Not only that, but circumnavigating Africa requires more time, fuel, and ships than routes through the Suez Canal, resulting in stretched supply chains and increased environmental damage.…  Seguir leyendo »

A screen grab captured from a Houthi Media Center video shows the cargo ship Galaxy being hijacked by Iran-backed Houthis from Yemen in the Red Sea on Nov. 20, 2023. Houthis Media Center/Anadolu via Getty Images

So risky has the Red Sea become since Houthi militants started their attacks on shipping that, since late November, over 350 container ships—plus all manner of tankers, bulk carriers, car carriers, and other merchant vessels—have diverted to other routes. That means massive logistical challenges that involve not just new charts and more fuel but getting crews and cargo to alternative staging posts. Because shipping is extraordinarily efficient, most won’t notice a thing. But if the attacks on shipping continue, we’ll start paying for the service. And we would do well to anticipate Houthi-like campaigns in other waters.

Not a day passes without more turbulence in the Red Sea.…  Seguir leyendo »

El Polar Prince, el buque desde el cual el Titán, el sumergible de OceanGate Expeditions, fue lanzado. David Hiscock/Reuters

Cuando el contralmirante John Mauger, comandante del Primer Distrito de la Guardia Costera de Estados Unidos, apareció ante las cámaras el jueves pasado, habían transcurrido cuatro días sin que se supiera nada sobre la suerte del sumergible Titán o de las cinco personas que transportaba. Tras la larga espera, la noticia de que se daba por muertos a los cinco pasajeros, debido al colapso inmediato de la embarcación bajo la enorme presión, a muchos les pareció que era el agónico pero definitivo desenlace de la historia. La teniente Samantha Corcoran añadió que no había más sesiones informativas previstas.

Sin embargo, a pesar de lo desgarradora que fue la noticia, no es el final de la historia.…  Seguir leyendo »

OceanGate Expeditions’ Titan submersible. OceanGate Expeditions, via Associated Press

As details emerged about the implosion last week of the Titan submersible in its descent to the wreck of the Titanic nearly two and a half miles below the surface of the North Atlantic, there was widespread anger that its owner and pilot knowingly took civilians on an uncertified vessel to a depth of crushing pressure.

The billionaire investor Ray Dalio, who founded the ocean exploration company OceanX with his son, Mark, expressed what he described on Twitter as his “great anger”. He accused Stockton Rush, the chief executive of OceanGate, who was piloting the Titan, of “reckless disregard for tried-and-true safety protocols that have made manned submersible exploration extremely safe”.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Polar Prince, the support vessel that launched the OceanGate Expeditions Titan submersible. David Hiscock/Reuters

When Rear Adm. John Mauger, the commander of the First Coast Guard District, addressed the cameras last Thursday, four days had passed with no word on the fate of the Titan submersible or the five people it carried. After the long wait, the news that all five were presumed dead, from an instantaneous collapse of the vessel under tremendous pressure, sounded to many like an agonizing but definitive conclusion to the story. Lt. Samantha Corcoran added that there were no more scheduled briefings.

But as wrenching as the news was, it is not the end of the story. It can’t be.…  Seguir leyendo »

Gulf of Guinea: fighting criminal groups in the Niger Delta is key to defeating piracy

Different reports have recently highlighted security challenges in the Gulf of Guinea. One was published by the International Maritime Bureau, another by the French Navy’s Mica centre and another by the US Maritime Administration.

These reports come against a backdrop of pirate attacks against merchant ships in West Africa, particularly in the Gulf of Guinea between Côte d'Ivoire and Gabon. They have also led to attention-grabbing headlines about a “piracy surge” or even “waves of terror”.

In 2019, kidnappings of seafarers in the Gulf of Guinea reached an unprecedented number. Attacks against merchant ships were recorded off Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea.…  Seguir leyendo »

Concerns were raised about the cyber vulnerability of the new HMS Queen Elizabeth. Photo: Getty Images.

It is not a matter of if you will be attacked, but when. No organization, be those international institutions, government agencies or small businesses can ever be 100 per cent cyberattack proof, as several examples have recently indicated. Therefore preparedness, in the form of testing cybersecurity structure via different tools for any potential attacks, is vital for minimizing cyber risks. This is as true for the maritime sector and any other, since the outcomes of such an attack may vary from loss of revenue to environmental disaster and loss of life.

Testing, as a feedback process, is required for two reasons.…  Seguir leyendo »

Container cars pulled by Union Pacific locomotives at the Port of Los Angeles. Photo via Getty Images

There are 14 major chokepoints that are critical to the international food trade. Report author Laura Wellesley and experts Conor Walsh and Andrew E. Tucci explain why policymakers must take action to mitigate the risk of severe disruptions at ports, maritime straits and inland transport routes, which could have devastating knock-on effects for global food security.

What are chokepoints and why are they important?

Conor Walsh: Chokepoints represent the inconvenient geographic realities that exist when distant producers and consumers seek to exchange goods and services.

Laura Wellesley: They are major infrastructure bottlenecks along international supply chains that could be maritime chokepoints like the Strait of Malacca or major canals like the Suez or Panama Canal.…  Seguir leyendo »

La geopolítica y el retorno de lo marítimo

La apertura de China en los años 80 del siglo XX, el colapso del imperio soviético en 1990 y el fin de los sistemas económicos cerrados, constituyeron hitos principales en el proceso de globalización, permitiendo que en la última década del siglo XX se incorporasen al sistema económico global más de 2.000 millones personas, la mayoría en el este de Asia. La integración de ese enorme número de consumidores y productores en la economía global y el crecimiento del comercio internacional, impulsado por las nuevas tecnologías y unas condiciones de estabilidad favorecidas por la geopolítica del momento han modificado la distribución de la riqueza a escala global y por lo tanto los equilibrios de poder.…  Seguir leyendo »

El imperio de la ley es casi inexistente, sin gobernanza ni vigilancia. Las actividades económicas ilegales, no reguladas ni fiscalizadas, son algo común. Lo poderosos se apropian de recursos no renovables a expensas de los que carecen de poder. La degradación medioambiental va en aumento.

Puede parecer la descripción de un Estado fallido, un país sumido en la pobreza y asediado por guerras civiles o una distopia novelesca, pero no es nada de eso. La vasta región (el 45 por ciento de la superficie total de la Tierra) prácticamente sin gobernanza ni imperio de la ley es el alta mar, las casi dos terceras partes de los océanos mundiales que quedan fuera de la jurisdicción de país alguno.…  Seguir leyendo »

(1) Introducción

El auge económico y estratégico de Asia y el reposicionamiento estratégico de EEUU hacia el eje marítimo Indo-Pacífico están reconfigurando las bases de la geopolítica global. Dichas tendencias afectan profundamente a España y a Europa. Por un lado, el desplazamiento del epicentro económico y geopolítico global hacia el corredor marítimo Indo-Pacífico subraya el declive del continente europeo, epicentro de la economía y la geopolítica global en los últimos 500 años.[1] Por otro lado, el desplazamiento estratégico norteamericano hacia el Indo-Pacífico, el declive en el gasto militar europeo, la crisis económica y política de la UE, el resurgir estratégico ruso y la creciente inestabilidad en Oriente Medio están avivando la desestructuración del vecindario europeo y la proliferación de tendencias renacionalizadoras en Europa.…  Seguir leyendo »