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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 19 June 2024

Sea patrolling intensified: Rajnath after drone attack on vessels MV Chem Pluto, MV Sai Baba

'The Indian government has taken the drone attack on MV Chem Pluto and attack on MV Saibaba in the Red Sea seriously. We will find those who executed the recent attacks on merchant navy ships even from the depths of the seas and take strict action against them', the defence minister said

Imran Ahmed Siddiqui New Delhi Published 27.12.23, 07:01 AM
Rajnath Singh

Rajnath Singh File picture

Defence minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday said the government had taken serious cognisance of the recent attacks on merchant navy ships MV Chem Pluto and MV Sai Baba and would take strict action against the perpetrators by tracing them even from the “depths of seas”.

Referring to the recent suspected drone attacks on merchant vessel (MV) Chem Pluto in the Arabian Sea and MV Sai Baba in the Red Sea, Singh said India has intensified patrolling of the seas after the attacks on merchant navy ships.

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The defence minister was speaking after commissioning the stealth-guided missile destroyer — INS Imphal — into the Indian Navy in Mumbai.

“The Indian government has taken the drone attack on MV Chem Pluto and attack on MV Saibaba in the Red Sea seriously. We will find those who executed the recent attacks on merchant navy ships even from the depths of the seas and take strict action against them,” he said.

MV Chem Pluto with 21 Indian crew members onboard was struck by a drone about 217 nautical miles from Porbandar on Saturday. The navy had dispatched a P8I maritime patrol aircraft and a warship and the Coast Guard sent an offshore patrol vessel and a Dornier maritime surveillance aircraft to assist the merchant vessel. The India-bound chemical tanker was reportedly on its way from Saudi Arabia’s Jubail port to New Mangalore when it was hit by an unmanned aerial vehicle, triggering a massive fire onboard. No injury was reported.

On Sunday, MV Saibaba, a Gabon-flagged commercial crude oil tanker with 25 Indian crew members, reportedly came under a drone attack in the Southern Red Sea. Indian officials later clarified that the commercial oil tanker was not an Indian-flagged vessel. There were no casualties reported.

Navy chief Admiral R. Hari Kumar said the Indian Navy has deployed four destroyers of Project 15B and 15A class to counter piracy and drone attacks on merchant ships. He said P-8I aircraft, Dorniers, Sea Guardians, helicopters and Coast Guard ships have been deployed jointly to counter the threats of piracy and drone attacks.

The twin drone attacks have sent the Indian security establishment into a tizzy. Sources said the Indian Navy has now deployed guided missile destroyers in the wake of the attacks.

“There is still no clarity whether the attack was a missile or drone strike. A preliminary analysis of the area of attack and debris found on the ship pointed towards a drone attack,” said a navy official.

MV Chem Pluto arrived at Mumbai’s outer anchorage on Monday afternoon.

“The Indian Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal team inspected the vessel to make a preliminary assessment of the type and nature of the attack,” the official said, adding “Further forensic and technical analysis will be required to establish the type and amount of explosive used”.

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