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2nd Indian ship hit by drone, now in Red Sea

2nd Indian ship hit by drone, now in Red Sea

India-bound vessel MV Chem Pluto (R) is escorted back by an Indian Coast Guard ship after coming under attack by a drone in the Indian Ocean. ANI

Tribune News Service

Sandeep Dikshit

New Delhi, December 24

A second Indian-operated ship was targeted by a drone in as many days even as the ship that was attacked on Saturday is being escorted to the nearest port by Indian Navy and Coast Guard vessels.

1st attacked by Iran?

  • Mangalore-bound MV Chem Pluto was attacked by a drone in Arabian Sea on Saturday
  • Carrying petrochemicals from Saudi Arabia, it was two days away from its destination
  • The US said the hit, 217 nautical miles from Porbandar, was an attack drone fired from Iran

Panipat traders wary

Already reeling under a drop in orders from overseas buyers, Houthi attacks on ships in the Red Sea due to Israel-Hamas war have added to the concerns of exporters in Panipat.

Bahrain-based US Naval Forces Central Command received reports from two ships in the Southern Red Sea that they were under attack late on Saturday night. One of them was Gaboon-flagged vessel MV Saibaba with 25 Indian crew members. The other was Blaamanen, a Norwegian-flagged oil tanker which reported a near-miss by an attack drone with no injuries or damage reported.

Indian Navy officials said all the Indians aboard MV Saibaba were safe and the ship did not radio about any damage by the drone. The US Central Command said these attacks were the 14th and 15th attacks on commercial shipping by the Yemen-based Houthis since October 17. The Houthis say their attacks target fully or partially owned ships by Israeli shipping lines or billionaires.

More serious was the first attack on Saturday. MV Chem Pluto carrying petrochemicals from Saudi Arabia, and two days away from docking at Mangalore, was struck during morning hours in the Indian Ocean. The Pentagon claimed the hit that took place 217 nautical miles from Porbandar was a one-way attack drone fired from Iran. The Indian Navy and the Coast Guard, which were the first responders to the attack, have not made public their conclusions about the source of attack. The Navy deployed a warship and the Coast Guard a maritime patrol aircraft on Saturday soon after the UK Maritime Trade Operations said a drone had “attacked” MV Chem Pluto with 20 Indian and one Vietnamese crew members. The Navy’s guided-missile destroyer INS Mormugao had gone to the spot and examined details relating to the attack, said officials.

The attack caused an explosion and fire on the ship. Ambrey, a maritime security firm, was quoted as

saying the tanker was Israel-affiliated. The Coast Guard said MV Chem Pluto had started making way towards Mumbai port after repairs. Indian Coast Guard ship ICGS Vikram is providing security to it.

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