US and India Bolster Naval Presence in Red Sea Against Houthi Threats to Shipping

US and India Bolster Naval Presence in Red Sea Against Houthi Threats to Shipping

naval presence in red sea ins kochi ins kolkata
Credits: Indian Navy

Last updated on December 23rd, 2023 at 07:09 am

In response to escalating threats to merchant vessels in the Red Sea, particularly from Iranian-backed Houthi militia, the US has recently launched Operation Prosperity Guardian. This multinational naval force, including the UK, Bahrain, France, Norway, and others, aims to safeguard sea traffic from potential attacks. Concurrently, India has bolstered its maritime presence in the north Arabian Sea, deploying two guided-missile destroyers near Aden.

India’s Naval Deployment in Arabian Sea

Though official statements are sparse, it is understood that the Indian Navy has positioned the INS Kochi and INS Kolkata off the coast of Aden. The primary mission of these destroyers is to protect merchant vessels from threats like Somalian piracy at the entrance of the Red Sea. The INS Kochi, in particular, has been active in mitigating threats from pirates in these waters.

US-Led Coalition to Counter Houthi Threats

Operation Prosperity Guardian, announced by the US on Monday, is a strategic initiative to counter the increasing threat of ballistic missile and drone attacks from Shia Houthi groups in Yemen. The coalition’s primary focus is to ensure safe passage for commercial shipping in the Red Sea, a vital global trade artery.

Houthi Militia’s Escalating Aggression

The Houthi militia, engaged in conflict with the Yemeni government and supported by groups like Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Islamic State, and Ansar Al-Sharia, has intensified its maritime attacks. Operating near the Bab el-Mandab chokepoint, the militia’s strategy includes targeting commercial vessels to pressure the international community over Israel’s military operations in Gaza.

Somalian Pirate Threats Compound Maritime Challenges

Adding to the maritime security challenges, Islamist Somalian pirates have escalated their activities, hijacking merchant vessels for ransom. The most recent case involves the Malta-flagged tanker MV Ruen, which is currently under pirate control and has been taken to Mogadishu.

Global Trade at Risk

These maritime threats, coupled with China’s actions in the South China Sea, pose a significant risk to global trade and maritime communications. Any major attack by the Houthis could severely impact global oil flows through the Red Sea, potentially leading to a spike in crude oil prices and exacerbating global economic woes. The Red Sea is a critical conduit for global oil imports, with approximately 10% of it passing through annually.

Also Read – Houthi Missile Hits Tanker, Sparks Fire: US Military

A Call for Vigilant Maritime Security

The deployment of naval forces by the US, India, and other nations underscores the critical need for heightened maritime security in these strategic waters. As global trade and energy supplies face potential disruptions, the international community remains vigilant, working collaboratively to ensure the safety and freedom of navigation in these crucial sea lanes.

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