New Delhi, Dec 26 (The Street Press India) – A drone hit the chemical tanker MV Chem Pluto near India’s west coast. The Indian Navy checked the ship at Mumbai harbor and will figure out more about the attack, like where it came from and how much explosive was used, through more detailed investigation.
The Navy’s bomb disposal team carefully checked the Liberian-flagged vessel when it reached Mumbai harbor. This happened two days after a drone hit the ship in the Arabian Sea while it was heading to New Mangalore port.
On Sunday, a Pentagon spokesperson mentioned that MV Chem Pluto was struck by “a one-way attack drone fired from Iran.” Due to the increased attacks on commercial vessels in the Arabian Sea, the Navy took action by deploying P-8I long-range patrol aircraft for surveillance. Additionally, warships INS Mormugao, INS Kochi, and INS Kolkata were positioned in the area to uphold a “deterrent presence,” according to Navy officials.
Saturday’s drone attack on MV Chem Pluto occurred amidst growing concerns about commercial vessels being targeted, reportedly by Iran-backed Houthi militants in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, amid the Israel-Hamas conflict.
The vessel, carrying 21 Indian and one Vietnamese crew, anchored off Mumbai at 3:30 pm and was escorted by the Indian Coast Guard ship ICGS Vikram on its way to Mumbai.
Upon arrival, the Indian Navy explosive ordnance disposal team conducted a preliminary assessment, indicating that a drone attack was likely based on the analysis of the attack area and debris found on the ship.
The spokesperson mentioned that additional forensic and technical analysis is needed to determine the specifics of the attack, such as the type and amount of explosive used.
Following the completion of the explosive ordnance team’s analysis, a joint investigation by various agencies has commenced.
“MV Chem Pluto has been cleared for further operation by her company-in-charge at Mumbai. The ship is scheduled to undergo mandatory checks by the various inspecting authorities before undertaking ship to ship transfer of cargo,” he stated.
“This is likely to be followed by docking and repairs of the damaged portion of MV Chem Pluto,” he added.
To address the increasing attacks on commercial vessels in the region, the official stated that three guided missile destroyers have been deployed in the Arabian Sea.
MV Chem Pluto, transporting crude oil from Al Jubail port in Saudi Arabia to New Mangalore port, was hit approximately 217 nautical miles from Porbandar on Saturday. Fortunately, no injuries were reported.
In a separate incident, a Gabon-flagged commercial crude oil tanker with 25 Indian crew members also faced a drone attack in the Southern Red Sea on Saturday, but there were no injuries reported, as confirmed by Indian officials and the US military.
In response to the recent surge in attacks in the Arabian Sea, the Indian Navy has strategically positioned guided missile destroyers, including INS Mormugao, INS Kochi, and INS Kolkata, to uphold a deterrent presence in different areas, as stated by the official.
He further mentioned that long-range maritime reconnaissance P8I aircraft are consistently assigned to maintain domain awareness.
The Maritime Operations Centre of the Western Naval Command is actively monitoring the situation in close collaboration with the Coast Guard and all relevant agencies, he added.