Indian Navy’s guided missile destroyer INS Visakhapatnam, mission deployed in the Gulf of Aden for anti-piracy operations, responded swiftly to a last night drone attack by Yemen’s Houthi rebels on Marshall Island flagged MV Genco Picardy, having nine Indian crew on board.

The action by the Indian Navy warship ensured that Genco Picardy was safe for further sail to the next port of call. The vessel had left Saudi Arabia recently and was bound for India, news agency Associated Press reported.

Indian rescue mission

Within an hour of getting the distress call, a Navy spokesperson stated, that the INS Visakhapatnam positioned in the Gulf of Eden managed to reach the vessel 70 nautical miles southeast of Eden, at 12.30 am on Thursday . The Naval ship had got the call at 11:11 pm on Wednesday.

MV Genco Picardy with 22 crew, including 9 Indians, did not suffer any serious damage to the vessel due to the fire brought under control because of the drone attack, the spokesperson pointed out. No casualties were reported either, he added to demonstrate the urgent response by the naval personnel.

“Indian Naval explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) specialists from INS Visakhapatnam boarded the vessel on the early hours of 18 Jan 24 to inspect the damage and after a thorough inspection, rendered the area safe for further transit. The vessel is proceeding to the next port of call,” he stated.

Bomb-carrying drones

The Indian Navy, however, was silent about the details of the drone used in the attack and its attackers. But, news reports, quoting United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations, stated that the US-owned Genco Picardy ship in the Gulf of Aden was attacked by a bomb-carrying drone launched by Yemen’s Houthi rebels. This is the second direct assault in the recent past on America linked vessel.

In the last 40 to 42 days, 35 drone attacks took place on ships either owned or linked to Israel, mainly in the Red Sea, North Arabian Sea, and Central Arabian Sea, Businessline quoting Indian Navy chief Admiral R Hari Kumar reported on January 10. The Indian Navy has collected samples of debris from three vessels and is examining them forensically to identify the origin of the attack, he had pointed out.

On December 23, the Indian Navy’s mission deployed platforms came to the rescue of MT Chem Pluto which too had faced a drone attack in the Arabian Sea. The vessel with 22 crew, 21 Indian and one Vietnamese, was reported on fire after being hit by a drone. The Indian Navy diverted a maritime patrol aircraft operating in area undertaking routine surveillance and diverted its ship Mormugao to assess the situation and provide assistance to MT Chem Pluto.