Ships turning off tracking systems to avoid Red Sea attacks: report

Vessel reportedly approached by several small boats at southern end of Red Sea on Tuesday

Some ships traveling through the Red Sea are now turning off their tracking systems to avoid being attacked by Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels, a report says. 

The evasive maneuvers come as shippers, including Hapag Lloyd, MSC, Maersk, as well as BP and the oil tanker group Frontline, have announced that they will be rerouting their vessels from the area and sending them around South Africa instead. 

The news agency, citing data from the London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG), reports that four MSC container ships in the Red Sea have had their transponders shut off since Sunday. The company on Saturday announced its intentions to avoid the area. 

Other ships are trying to obscure their whereabouts by pinging their locations as being somewhere else when approaching the Yemen coastline, Ioannis Papadimitriou, a senior freight analyst at Vortexa – a ship tracking company – told Reuters. 

VESSELS AVOIDING RED SEA DURING ONGOING HOUTHI REBEL ATTACKS, ADDING COSTS AND DELAYS 

Red Sea

Cargo ships are seen at Israel's Haifa commercial shipping port in the Mediterranean Sea on Dec. 13, 2023. (Mati Milstein/NurPhoto via Getty Images / Getty Images)

Some ships reportedly have armed guards on board. At least 11 cargo vessels that passed through the Suez Canal are currently anchored in the Red Sea between Sudan and Saudi Arabia, Reuters also reported, citing LSEG data. 

At the southern end of the Red Sea on Tuesday, a vessel was approached by four small boats about 80 nautical miles northeast of Djibouti, according to Reuters. 

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
BP BP PLC 35.42 +0.10 +0.27%

The news agency, citing a report from the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations, said four to five people were on each boat, but there was no reported sighting of weapons. 

ISRAELI HACKER GROUP TAKES CREDIT FOR CYBERATTACK SHUTTING DOWN MAJORITY OF IRAN’S GAS STATIONS: REPORTS 

A large blue colored ship off having its freight offloaded

Maersk is one of the companies that is avoiding the Red Sea due to recent ship attacks. (Planet One Images/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images / Getty Images)

The closest boat followed the path of the vessel in a "suspicious approach" before breaking away, it added. 

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Monday announced the formation of Operation Prosperity Guardian, a multinational security initiative to address the security challenges in the Red Sea. 

Red Sea

A Yemeni coast guard member loyal to the internationally-recognized government rides in a patrol boat in the Red Sea off of the government-held town of Mokha in the western Taiz province, close to the strategic Bab al-Mandab Strait, on Dec. 12. (KHALED ZIAD/AFP via Getty Images / Getty Images)

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ON FOX BUSINESS     

"The recent escalation in reckless Houthi attacks originating from Yemen threatens the free flow of commerce, endangers innocent mariners, and violates international law," Austin said in a statement. "The Red Sea is a critical waterway that has been essential to freedom of navigation and a major commercial corridor that facilitates international trade." 

FOX Business’ Bradford Betz contributed to this report.