February 29th, 2024

Tremors from Red Sea conflict start to shake Canada, with dozens of ships delayed

By The Canadian Press on January 15, 2024.

Canadian shippers are starting to feel the strain of attacks on cargo vessels in the Red Sea, as boats reach the Port of Halifax more than a week late and container rates soar. People watch as a vessel from the global shipping container company MSC departs Halifax Harbour in Halifax on Tuesday, December 26, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese

MONTREAL – Canadian shippers are starting to feel the strain of attacks on cargo vessels in the Red Sea, as container rates rise and boats are late to arrive.

Port data shows that two-thirds of the 43 ships slated to berth at the Port of Halifax in the second half of this month are now expected to arrive at least a day behind schedule, with some running weeks late.

According to industry research firm Drewry, the average price of shipping containers has doubled since mid-December, when Houthi militants in Yemen stepped up attacks on commercial boats to protest against Israel’s military campaign in the Gaza Strip.

The widening conflict has prompted all major container carriers to steer clear of the route that passes through the Suez Canal, opting instead for a path around Africa that can add one to two weeks to transit times and greater fuel, crew and insurance costs.

Shipping Federation of Canada CEO Chris Hall says the delays have sent importers scrambling, with sluggish stock still en route to Canadian shores and shelves.

But shipments to the West Coast remain largely unaffected so far, while the Global Shippers Forum says excess capacity in the sector means prices will likely settle far below pandemic highs.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 15, 2024.

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