Friday was the day the US and its UK partner ran out of patience with the Houthis. Overnight, warships pounded Houthi targets in Yemen from sea and air. Will the strikes have a deterrent effect or spur the militants on to yet more attacks on shipping? They have vowed to continue their campaign anyway. Owners and analysts are on tenterhooks for what happens next.

On Wednesday, the Houthis fired a huge salvo of projectiles at Western warships that were part of Operation Prosperity Guardian. The attack, described as the biggest yet, was seen as the final straw that prompted the West into action.

As if the region were not hot enough right now, the Iranians waded in with their own direct action on Thursday, boarding the St Nikolas in the Gulf of Oman. The suezmax tanker is better known to TradeWinds readers as the Suez Rajan, which was arrested by the US Department of Justice in Asia last year to seize 1m barrels of US-sanctioned Iranian crude on board. The latest incident looks like a classic tit-for-tat.

Away from the Middle East now, and Euronav’s capital markets day event was held on Friday. Compagnie Maritime Belge and Euronav chief executive Alexander Saverys doubled down on the shipowning family’s green mission for shipping in an address to shareholders.

Meanwhile, dry cargo shop Lightship Chartering has bought into UK rival Braemar as part of a wider programme of direct financial investments in shipping. Braemar boss James Gundy said he was pleased with the vote of confidence in his shop by the Swiss dry cargo broker.

Influential shipowners Evangelos Marinakis and John Fredriksen have separately pencilled in a total of up to 10 VLCC newbuildings worth almost $1.3bn at the same Chinese shipbuilder but with different fuelling choices, in a move that could prompt a rush to yards for large tanker tonnage.

Maersk Tankers has confirmed its purchase of US pool operator Penfield Marine in a deal that creates one of the world’s largest tanker operations. Under the deal, confirmed on Monday and previously reported by TradeWinds, the combined pool will manage 240 vessels.

Clyde & Co has been hit with a record fine over its failures to ensure a shipping client was not laundering dirty money. UK regulators fined the law firm £500,000 ($637,000) after it admitted professional misconduct linked to a four-year business relationship with an unidentified large Middle East-based dealer buying and selling ships for scrap.

And finally, emerging shipping investment vehicle Alpha Omega Marine has stepped into the spotlight, announcing a first vessel purchase. The company plans to grow its business with modern, eco-tonnage, stressing that it is sensitive to environmental, social and governance aspects when it looks at expansion prospects.


A well-known shipping face has a big day to celebrate this year. John Fredriksen turns 80 on 10 May. Photo: Fiona Shields/Flickr

If you fancy some light relief, I recommend our look ahead story.

TradeWinds takes a serious, speculative and sideways look at a few of the things that are or could be coming up in 2024.

Takeover talk, renewals, regulations, newbuildings, oddities and one big birthday for starters...