Red Sea Ship Attack: Indian Crew Unharmed in Drone Strike on Oil Tanker

Red Sea Ship Attack: Indian Crew Unharmed in Drone Strike on Oil Tanker

red sea ship attack mv saibaba
Representative image of an oil tanker

A recent drone attack in the Red Sea has put maritime security in the spotlight once again. A crude oil tanker, carrying 25 Indian crew members, was the target of this assault, suspected to have been carried out by Houthi militants.

US Military Reports on the Attack

The US Central Command reported that the attack was executed by a drone, leading the Gabon-owned tanker MV Saibaba to issue a distress call to a nearby US warship. Despite the severity of the attack, there were no injuries reported among the crew. Indian Navy officials have confirmed the safety of all 25 Indian nationals on board.

Clarifications on the Tanker’s Flag

Initial reports from the US Central Command suggested that one of the vessels under fire was India-flagged. However, the Indian Navy clarified that MV Saibaba is Gabon-flagged, though it received certification from the Indian register of shipping.

Additional Near-Miss Incident

Alongside the attack on MV Saibaba, the M/V BLAAMANEN, a Norwegian-flagged chemical/oil tanker, also reported a close encounter with a Houthi one-way attack drone, fortunately without any injuries or damage. The USS LABOON (DDG 58) responded to the distress calls from these incidents.

Series of Houthi Militant Attacks

This incident is the latest in a series of attacks by Houthi militants on commercial shipping since October 17, according to CENTCOM. It also follows another recent attack on the chemical tanker MV Chem Pluto off the coast of India, which was reportedly struck by a drone fired from Iran, marking the first such direct accusation by the Pentagon against Iran since the Israel-Hamas conflict began.

Details on MV Chem Pluto

The MV Chem Pluto, operating under a Liberian flag and managed by a Dutch entity, is owned by a Japanese company. With 20 Indian and one Vietnamese crew member on board, the vessel was secured by the Indian Coast Guard after it caught fire due to the drone strike. Maritime security firm Ambrey has indicated that the tanker had affiliations with Israel, and it had commenced its journey from the UAE, bound for New Mangalore port.

Impact on Red Sea Shipping

Houthi forces have been increasingly targeting commercial ships in the Red Sea, with some attacks being claimed as acts of retribution against Israel. This escalation of hostilities has led major shipping firms to reroute their vessels via the southern tip of Africa to avoid the high-risk Red Sea region.

In response to these growing threats, the US and other naval forces are stepping up their operations in the Red Sea to safeguard commercial shipping. The establishment of a new task force aims to enhance security measures in this vital maritime area, reflecting the critical importance of protecting global trade routes against such attacks.

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