The Indian Coast Guard and Navy responded quickly on Saturday to assist a merchant ship that was reportedly the target of a drone attack in the Arabian Sea. They also diverted a patrol boat and a warship to a location 217 nautical miles off the coast of Porbandar, Gujarat, where the ship, flying the Liberian flag, was disabled after an impact to its power generation system, according to Indian officials keeping an eye on the situation.
Within minutes of learning about the emergency, the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO), the position reporting and emergency incident response interface with merchant ships at sea, alerted the navy and the coast guard, who then quickly dispatched their maritime surveillance aircraft, a P-8I and a Dornier, to respond to the scene, according to the officials.
“Fire extinguished, no casualties. Authorities are investigating. Vessels are advised to transit with caution and report any suspicious activity to UKMTO,” the notification said issued on Saturday.
Hindustan Times reported that the MV Chem Pluto, which is now in danger, has a crew of 22 sailors, 21 of which are citizens of India. They’re all secure. The vessel’s master in command, Deepesh Badikkihil, is an Indian. Vietnam is the sole non-Indian crew member.
According to one of the officials mentioned above, the chemical tanker transporting ethylene dichloride was traveling from the Jubail port in Saudi Arabia to New Mangalore in Karnataka.
The incident occurs at a time when the region is dealing with a number of security issues, such as the apparent rebirth of piracy and Houthi militia targeting commercial shipping in the Red Sea following the start of the Israel-Hamas conflict on October 7. The Houthi rebels, backed by Iran, announced their allegiance to Hamas.
“MV Merlin, which was in the area, went to check on MV Chem Pluto. Merlin reported that the Chem Pluto crew was safe, but the ship’s power generation had failed. The navy and coast guard diverted their ships to the area as it is on the fringes on India’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ),” a third official stated.
According to the officials, the warship and the Coast Guard’s offshore patrol boat Vikram are anticipated to arrive near Chem Pluto’s site on Saturday night.
INS Earlier on December 14, unknown attackers in the Arabian Sea took control of the merchant vessel Ruen, flying the flag of Malta, which Kochi had intercepted. It followed the stolen ship until it got inside Somalia’s territorial seas. On December 18, one of the eighteen servicemen aboard the MV Ruen was hurt and was taken to the Indian stealth destroyer for medical attention. The next day, he was transported ashore in Oman.
“In the light of Ruen incident and towards augmenting the anti-piracy efforts in the Gulf of Aden area, the Indian Navy has deployed another indigenous guided missile destroyer in the region. The Indian Navy remains committed to ensuring safety of merchant shipping and rendering assistance to the mariners at sea, as a ‘first responder’ in the region,” the navy mentioned in a statement.
On December 19, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke on the most recent developments in the Israel-Hamas conflict, with the Indian leader highlighting the urgency of an early cessation of hostilities.
In light of the Houthi rebels’ attacks on merchant ships in the Red Sea, the safety of maritime traffic also came up during the discussion. In the wake of the attacks, a number of shipping companies have ceased operations in the Red Sea.