NEW DELHI : Even as the U.S.-led coalition continued strikes on Houthi military targets in Yemen, meant to “degrade” their capabilities, the drone attacks on commercial shipping in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden continued. In the latest incident, the Indian Navy’s destroyer INS Visakhapatnam responded to a distress call by Marshall Island-flagged merchant vessel m.v.Genco Picardy following a drone attack at 11.11 p.m. on January 17. No casualties have been reported and the vessel is heading to the next port of call.
“INS Visakhapatnam, undertaking anti-piracy patrol in the Gulf of Aden, acknowledged the distress call and intercepted the vessel at 0030 hrs on January 18, 2024 in order to provide assistance. m.v.Genco Picardy with 22 crew members, nine Indians, reported nil casualties and fire under control,” the Navy said in a statement on Thursday.
The distress call from MV Genco Picardy was issued late on Wednesday. Navy officials said MV Genco Picardy with 22 crew, including nine Indians, faced a drone attack on Wednesday night. The merchant vessel was attacked 60 nautical miles South of Port Aden.
An Indian Navy spokesperson took to microblogging site X to confirm the developments. “#IndianNavy’s Guided Missile Destroyer #INSVisakhapatnam, mission deployed in #GulfofAden for #antipiracy ops, swiftly responded to 𝙙𝙞𝙨𝙩𝙧𝙚𝙨𝙨 𝙘𝙖𝙡𝙡 by Marshall Island flagged MV #GencoPicardy following a 𝙙𝙧𝙤𝙣𝙚 𝙖𝙩𝙩𝙖𝙘𝙠 at 2311 hrs on #17Jan 24 & intercepted the MV at 0030 hrs on #18Jan 24 to provide assistance. MV Genco Picardy with 22 crew (incl 09 Indian) reported nil casualties & fire under control. ” the tweet read.
After intercepting the vessel, MV Genco Picardy, Indian Navy’s explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) specialists boarded the vessel to inspect the damaged area. “Specialists, after a thorough inspection have rendered the area safe for further transit. The vessel is proceeding to the next port of call,” the Navy said.
According to reports, Yemen-based Houthi rebels attacked a second US-operated vessel in the Red Sea region this week and the US military carried out fresh strikes.
Attacks by the Houthi rebels on ships in the Red Sea since November have slowed trade between Asia and Europe and alarmed global leader in an escalation of the war between Israel and Palestinian Hamas fighters in Gaza.
The Houthis have claimed that they are acting in solidarity with Palestinians and have threatened to expand attacks to include US ships in response to American and British strikes on the group’s positions.
The Houthi movement on Wednesday said its missiles had made a “direct hit” on the US Genco Picardy bulk carrier.
Shipping operator Genco confirmed the attack, and said its vessel was hit by a projectile while it was transiting through the Gulf of Aden with a cargo of phosphate rock.
Genco said there were no injuries to the crew and the ship suffered limited damage to its gangway and was on a course out of the area.
Hours after this US military said its forces had conducted strikes on 14 Houthi missiles that “presented an imminent threat to merchant vessels and US Navy ships in the region”.