New Delhi: INS Visakhapatnam, one of the Indian Navy’s frontline warships deployed on anti-piracy missions in central and northern Arabian Sea and Gulf of Eden, responded to a drone attack on a merchant ship, the Navy said in a statement. The Marshall Island-flagged merchant ship, MV Genco Picardy, was hit by a drone at around 11.11pm on Wednesday.
INS Visakhapatnam, a stealth guided-missile destroyer, responding to a mayday call, intercepted MV Genco Picardy at around 12.30am on Thursday to help the ship. According to the Navy, there were 22 crew members on board the merchant vessel, out of which nine were Indians.
An explosive ordnance disposal team from INS Visakhapatnam quickly boarded the vessel and brought the fire caused by the drone strike under control. No casualty has been reported in the incident.
The EOD team then carried out a thorough inspection of MV Genco Picardy and found it safe to sail. The ship is now said to be proceeding towards its next port of call.
As India Sentinels had reported earlier, following Yemen’s Houthi group Ansar Allah’s warning to strike Israel-linked ships passing through the Gulf of Aden to the Red Sea via the narrow strait of Bab-el-Mandeb – a region under – an area largely under Houthi missile and drone range, several commercial ships carrying cargo and oil have been hit.
Ansar Allah said the attacks would stop only after Israel stops its military campaign in the Gaza Strip against Palestinians and allow humanitarian aid to reach the hundreds of thousands of Gazans wounded and displaced by Israel.
The Indian Navy has been the first responders to several attacks on merchant ships since December 2023. First, it responded to a mayday call by Malta-flagged MV Ruen when it was hijacked by Somali pirates. However, as the ship was already under pirate control, the Navy could not do much keeping in mind the safety of the crew. Days later, the Navy again responded to a drone attack on a India-bound chemical tanker, MV Chem Pluto. Earlier this month, the Navy foiled a hijack attempt on a Liberia-flagged merchant ship, MV Lila Norfolk in northern Arabian Sea.
Due to rising attacks and piracy attempts on commercial ships in the region, the Navy recently stepped up its surveillance and patrolling in the northern and central Arabian Sea. It has deployed several top frontline warships, drones, and aircraft for the purpose, as India Sentinels had reported.
Following Ansar Allah’s drone strikes on merchant vessels, the US and its allies launched Operation Prosperity Guardian to protect ships from Houthi attacks in the maritime region. However, it has only been moderately successful. Recently, the US and its allies carried out air and missile strikes against Ansar Allah targets inside Yemen. In retaliation, the Houthi group hit a US vessel.
Wednesday’s strike on MV Genco Picardy and the missile strike on a US ship in the region shows that the US and its allies’ strikes on Ansar Allah in Yemen did not have any significant impact.