Australia Today

Australia Will Not Send Warships to the Red Sea to Fight Houthi Rebels

Australia declined the US's request for warships in the Red Sea, but will instead send ADF personnel.
australia warships red sea houthi yemen israel
AustrPhoto: Houthi Movement via Getty

Australia has confirmed it will not answer the US’s call to allies to send warships to the red sea to fight the Iran-backed Yemeni rebel group, the Houthis, who have been launching air and drone strikes on ships attempting to enter Israel since December 9. The group declared war on Israel in October and has ramped up its attacks in recent days to demand and end to Israel’s bombardment of Gaza.


The attacks have forced global shipping and oil companies to pause or redirect transit through one of the world’s most important trade routes.

The Red Sea is south of the Suez Canal, which is the most significant channel that connects Europe to Asia and Africa. With vessels under threat of attack at the southern end of the sea near Yemen, ships are instead having to travel all the way around Africa to get between the two continents, adding three to four weeks of travel time. More than 100 ships have so far rerouted which takes an extra three or four weeks and costs companies a lot in resources and lost revenue. 

These delays are predicted to see a rise in oil and energy prices globally, as well as slowing freight shipments of other goods around the world. But the Houthis say they will continue their attacks on ships until Israel ends its brutal attacks on Gaza that have already killed more than 19,000 Palestinians.

On Tuesday, the US announced a 10-nation “multinational security initiative” to deter further attacks.


US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the United Kingdom, Bahrain, Canada, France, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Seychelles and Spain would make up the coalition, and that “countries that seek to uphold the foundational principle of freedom of navigation must come together to tackle the challenge posed by this non-state actor”.

Australia did not sign up but on Thursday announced it would send a small group of military personnel to the region in lieu of warcrafts.

"We won't be sending a ship or a plane, That said, we will be almost tripling our contribution to the combined maritime force,” Defence Minister Richard Marles said.

An extra six Australian Defence Force personnel will be sent to Bahrain in the new year, which Marles said showed Australia’s key strategic focus was instead on our own region of the the north-east Indian Ocean, the South China Sea, the East China Sea and the Pacific.

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Aleksandra Bliszczyk is the Deputy Editor of VICE Australia. Follow her on Instagram.