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India Navy deploys 3 destroyers to counter Houthis drone threat.

| 2023

According to information published by the Indian government on December 25, 2023, Indian Navy has taken action following a suspected drone attack on the Liberian-flagged chemical/oil tanker MV Chem Pluto. The vessel, carrying 21 Indian and one Vietnamese crew member, was reported attacked on December 23 and safely reached Mumbai's outer anchorage on December 25.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 Artist rendering of the destroyer INS Mormugao, the Indian flag and an hypothetical Houthi flag. (Picture source: Indian MoD)

Upon arrival, the Indian Navy's Explosive Ordnance Disposal team conducted a preliminary inspection to assess the attack's nature. The analysis suggested a drone attack, indicated by the pattern of the damage and debris found on the ship. However, a more detailed forensic and technical analysis is pending to determine the specifics of the attack, including the type and amount of explosive used.

A joint investigation involving various agencies is underway following the Navy's initial assessment. The MV Chem Pluto has been cleared for further operations by the managing company in Mumbai. It is scheduled for mandatory inspections and a Ship to Ship (STS) cargo transfer, which will likely be followed by docking and repairs.

In response to the recent series of incidents in the Arabian Sea, the Indian Navy has strategically deployed three state-of-the-art Guided Missile Destroyers - INS Mormugao, INS Kochi, and INS Kolkata - in key areas to enhance maritime security and maintain a deterrent presence. Additionally, long-range maritime reconnaissance P8I aircraft are being deployed regularly for domain awareness.


The maritime trade security scenario in December 2023 is particularly tense due to a series of disruptive incidents in the Red Sea. These incidents, largely attributed to attacks by Yemen's Houthi militants, have significantly impacted the critical trade route that links Europe and North America with Asia via the Suez Canal.

As a result, shipping companies have faced increased container shipping costs, prompting many to reroute their vessels around Africa, which is a longer and more costly route. This rerouting has led to a decrease in traffic through the Bab al-Mandab Strait, a key connector between the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.

In response to these escalating threats, the United States and its allies have discussed the formation of a task force to protect Red Sea routes. This initiative, named 'Prosperity Guardian', is part of the US Navy-led, 39-member Combined Maritime Forces.

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