Israel-Affiliated Vessel Carrying Crude to India Attacked by Drone off Porbandar Coast
NEW DELHI, Dec 23: The Indian navy has dispatched warships and the Indian Coast Guard diverted its patrol ship ICGS Vikram following a drone attack causing explosion and fire on an Israel-affiliated merchant vessel with 20 Indian crew members on board reportedly carrying crude oil from Saudi Arabia to India.
The merchant ship MV Chem Pluto, with 20 Indians among the crew, was attacked outside the Indian Exclusive Economic Zone (IEEZ) in the Arabian Sea, 217 nautical miles off the Porbandar coast. ICGS Vikram, which was deployed on patrol of the IEEZ was directed towards the merchant ship in distress and it also all ships in the area to provide assistance to it.
The vessel MV Chem Pluto was going towards Mangalore from a port in Saudi Arabia when it was struck by a drone. No casualties was reported and the fire was extinguished but it has affected the functioning of the vessel.
“Some structural damage was also reported and some water was taken on board. The vessel was Israel-affiliated. She had last called Saudi Arabia and was destined for India at the time,” Reports said.
The Indian Navy has dispatched warships to provide assistance to the vessel.
The incident comes days after the Indian Navy helped in the evacuation of an injured sailor from a hijacked Malta-flagged cargo vessel on Monday. It had been reported that six “pirates” had illegally boarded the ship, the MV Ruen, in the Arabian Sea.
Ambrey, a British maritime security firm, said the “Liberia-flagged chemical/products tanker… was Israel-affiliated” and had been on its way from Saudi Arabia to India. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the strike which came amid a flurry of drone and missile attacks by Yemen’s Iran-backed Huthi rebels on a vital shipping lane in the Red Sea. Iran has also been accused of carrying out attacks near its waters.
Last month, an Israeli-owned cargo ship was hit in a suspected drone attack by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in the Indian Ocean, according to a U.S. official. The Malta-flagged vessel managed by an Israeli-affiliated company was reportedly damaged when the unmanned aerial vehicle exploded close to it, according to Ambrey.
The attacks on shipping since the start of the Israel – Hamas war on October 7 have prompted major firms to reroute their cargo vessels around the southern tip of Africa, despite the higher fuel costs of much longer voyages. The Huthi rebels have launched more than 100 drone and missile attacks targeting 10 merchant vessels involving more than 35 different countries, according to the Pentagon.