The United States and United Kingdom’s decision to hit back at Houthi militants after weeks of attacks on merchant shipping in the Red Sea has only escalated the chaos across the shipping industry, underscoring the threat of an enduring supply-chain crisis as vessels navigate the crucial trade route.

On Wednesday, a third commodity carrier in three days was struck, this time by a drone. Senior officials in the shipping industry privately acknowledge that many crew are now frightened at the prospect of transit.

Shortly after the U.S. and U.K. launched airstrikes at Houthi targets in Yemen — marking a step up from the more defensive approach known as Operation Prosperity Guardian — western navies have advised ships to stay away. That guidance was publicly heeded by the owners and operators of at least 2,300 merchant vessels — and some insurers responded by restricting cover.