Indian Navy Deploys INS Mormugao After Drone Attack On Chemical Tanker MT Chem Pluto

Indian Navy Deploys INS Mormugao After Drone Attack On Chemical Tanker MT Chem Pluto

Intelligence agencies suspect the involvement of the Iranian Dhow MV Saviz, located 47 nautical miles off the attacked MT Chem Pluto, in launching the drone.

Dharmesh ThakkarUpdated: Monday, December 25, 2023, 08:26 AM IST
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Indian Navy Deploys NS Mormugao After Drone Attack On Chemical Tanker MT Chem Pluto | X

The Indian Navy has deployed the frontline warship Visakhapatnam-class stealth guided-missile destroyer NS Mormugao to assist the chemical tanker MT Chem Pluto, which suffered structural damage and power loss in a suspected drone attack early Saturday morning off the Gujarat coast near Veraval.

Naval Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) specialists will embark MV Chem Pluto upon its arrival in Mumbai early Monday morning, escorted by the Coast Guard vessel ICGS Vikram to sanitize the vessel and undertake further investigation.

Iranian involvement suspected in Attack

Intelligence agencies suspect the involvement of the Iranian Dhow MV Saviz, located 47 nautical miles off the attacked MT Chem Pluto, in launching the drone. The United States Department of Defense, in a statement, alleged that the drone attack on the Liberia-flagged, Japanese-owned, and Netherlands-operated chemical tanker MT Chem Pluto was launched from Iran.

The drone attack has raised concerns within the Indian security establishment and the global commercial shipping industry regarding maritime threats extending into the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea from Iran-backed Yemen-based Houthi militants.

"While the Iranian coast is 500 nautical miles to the northwest and the Yemen coast 860 nautical miles from the west coast of India, the attacks are now on the doorstep from the conflict zones of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden," explained a senior defense analyst.

Pentagon allege role of Houthi militants

The Pentagon has alleged that Houthi militants fired a one-way expendable drone at MT Chem Pluto off the Indian coast, resulting in a fire on the ship, power failure, and a total blackout on the chemical tanker.

This drone attack on the Liberian-flagged chemical tanker, allegedly affiliated with Israel, follows the hijacking of the Malta-flagged vessel MV Ruen last week off Somalia by Yemeni Houthi militants. The Indian Naval warship INS Kochi, on an anti-piracy patrol, intercepted the hijacked merchant vessel and rescued a crew with bullet injuries.

The chemical tanker was carrying Ethylene dichloride, used in the manufacture of PVC pipes, films, and cables, and was hit by an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) 200 nautical miles off Veraval, Gujarat, en route to the port of Mangalore from Saudi Arabia.

The Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) in Mumbai was alerted to the fire on board MT Chem Pluto, which was hit by a projectile likely to be a missile or drone around 7:45 am on Saturday, with 21 Indian and a Vietnamese crew on board. While the MRCC diverted the Coast Guard vessel on maritime patrol CGS Vikram to assist the distressed vessel, the Indian Navy deployed maritime surveillance P-8I and Dornier aircraft for an aerial survey of the vessel, later contained by the firefighting crew of the chemical tanker.

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