A new year, same problems and probably some black swans floating our way, if recent years are anything to go by.

There was little festive cheer in the Red Sea, with Houthis and Somalis continuing their attacks on shipping in the region, disrupting one of the world’s most important maritime trade arteries.

The situation has pushed container ship spot rates to their highest levels in a year. Some companies have continued to use the Red Sea route, but others, such as AP Moller-Maersk, have suspended transits, not least because of an attack on one of its ships which led to the killing of several militants.

A bulk carrier was boarded by armed men off the coast of Somalia and subsequently rescued by the Indian Navy. This was the second incident of Somali involvement in attacks on ships in as many weeks. Are we seeing a resurgence of the bad old days of piracy? Or are these attacks acts of solidarity with the Houthis’ campaign in the Red Sea?

Turning to shipbroking, Clarksons published a positive profit update on Friday, forecasting an underlying profit well ahead of previous expectations. Underlying profit before tax for the year, subject to audit, is expected to be not less than £108m ($137m), it told the London Stock Exchange.

It’s been a busy start of the year for major Greek owner Evangelos Marinakis. His private Capital Maritime & Trading sold an 18% stake in Capital Product Partners (CPLP) to Cypriot group Yoda PLC for $160m. Yoda is now the second-largest shareholder in CPLP.

John Fredriksen-backed bulker owner Golden Ocean Group has a new chief executive. Lars-Christian Svensen had been interim CEO since last June, when Ulrik Andersen stepped down.

A familiar name in shipping circles has been in the news this week: Fulford-Smith. Not the founder and owner of Affinity Shipbrokers, Richard Fulford-Smith, but his son Tom, a founding partner of Far East-based Latitude Brokers. He and Charles D’Alton have teamed up with private equity to launch an insurance venture in London.

The 47-year-old Safer, rusting away off Yemen with its huge cargo of oil. Photo: Boskalis

And in a longer read, Adam Corbett recounts the story of how insurance broker Howden rallied insurers to avert a potential environmental crisis involving the stricken supertanker Safer. It approached the London marine market last year to rally support for a United Nations project to remove 1m barrels of oil from an ageing ultra-large crude carrier described as a “ticking time bomb”.