A Houthi fighter stands on the Galaxy Leader cargo ship in the Red Sea in this photo released on November 20, 2023. | Photo Credit: Reuters

Navy begins investigation into attack on merchant vessel off India’s west coast

The Liberian flagged vessel is now on its way to Mumbai and Indian Coast Guard ship ICGS Vikram is providing security to it

The Indian Navy has launched an investigation into a suspected drone strike on a Mangalore-bound cargo vessel off India’s west coast in the Arabian Sea even as the merchant ship is on its way to Mumbai, officials familiar with the matter said on December 24.

The Navy and the Indian Coast Guard swung into action by deploying their assets including a warship and maritime patrol aircraft on December 23 soon after the U.K. Maritime Trade Operations, or UKMTO, reported the drone “attack” on MV Chem Pluto that has around 20 Indian crew members.

There was no report of any casualty in the incident.

The Liberian flagged vessel is now on its way to Mumbai and Indian Coast Guard ship ICGS Vikram is providing security to it, the officials said.

The Navy has launched an investigation into the incident including into the origin of the strike, said an official on the condition of anonymity as the matter is sensitive in nature.

Gabon-flagged, India-crewed crude oil tanker merchant vessel Sai Baba hit by drone in southern Red Sea

The vessel, carrying crude oil to the New Mangalore port from the Al Jubail port in Saudi Arabia, was struck about 217 nautical miles from Porbandar, said another official.

The Navy sent stealth guided-missile destroyer INS Mormugao to the location of the drone strike on December 23 and the officials said the warship is in the process of examining various details relating to the attack, the officials said.

The incident came against the backdrop of Iran-backed Houthi rebels stepping up attacks on ships in the Red Sea amid the Israel-Hamas conflict.

Late last night, the Indian Coast Guard said MV Chem Pluto started making way towards Mumbai port undertaking damage assessment and repairs on its power generation systems.

“The Coast Guard Dornier aircraft has sanitised the area and established communication with Chem Pluto. The vessel has started making way towards Mumbai post undertaking damage assessment and repairs on its power generation systems,” it said.

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