Global shipping rates have risen sharply and companies are scrambling to avoid disruption to shipments after attacks on vessels in the Red Sea on Tuesday stymied traffic through the key Suez Canal trade artery.

Recent attacks by Iran-aligned Yemeni Houthi militant group on vessels forced leading shipping companies including Maersk to reroute around South Africa's Cape of Good Hope to avoid the Suez Canal, the shortest shipping route between Europe and Asia.

The attacks have stirred memories of 2021 when container ship Ever Given ran aground in the canal, blocking dozens of container ships for six days. The current disruption has caused container shipping costs to rise sharply, but those rates are still far below peak pandemic levels.