The Indian Navy’s preliminary analysis of the recent attack on merchant vessel, MV Chem Pluto, in the Arabian Sea has indicated a “strong possibility of a drone attack,” the Indian Navy said.
The Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral R Hari Kumar, on December 26, was briefed on the initial analysis undertaken by the Indian Navy’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal team and the follow-up actions being progressed, according to the Indian Navy’s statement.
The probe, based on the crew inputs and on-scene examination, also ascertained that the explosive charge on the drone detonated completely, causing extensive damage above the waterline, the statement further read.
Remnants of projectiles have been collected by the Indian Navy for further forensic analysis in coordination with other agencies, it added. Notably, MV Chem Pluto, with 20 Indian and one Vietnamese crew member, caught fire on Saturday after it was attacked by a suspected drone. It was later secured by the Indian Coast Guard (ICG), the ICG said in an official statement.
The merchant vessel reportedly commenced its voyage from the UAE on December 19 and was bound for New Mangalore port with an arrival date of December 25.
According to the official statement, on December 23, the Indian Coast Guard Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre in Mumbai received information regarding a fire onboard MV Chem Pluto, reportedly attacked by a suspected drone strike or aerial platform.
The Indian Coast Guard Maritime Coordination Centre (MRCC), which established real-time communication with the vessel’s agent, ascertained no loss of life and assured all assistance.
It was also learned that the vessel fire had been doused by the crew. To augment the vessel’s safety, MRCC Mumbai has activated the International Safety Net (ISN) and immediately diverted other merchant vessels in the vicinity of Chem Pluto for assistance.
The vessel reached Mumbai and anchored safely at Outer Anchorage off Mumbai at 1530 hrs on December 25.
On her arrival, the Indian Navy’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal team inspected the vessel to make a preliminary assessment of the type and nature of the attack.
As per the Indian Navy statement, a joint investigation by various agencies has commenced on completion of the analysis by the Navy’s Explosive Ordnance Team and MV Chem Pluto has been cleared for further operation by her company-in-charge in Mumbai.
The ship is scheduled to undergo mandatory checks by the various inspecting authorities before undertaking Ship to Ship (STS) transfer of cargo.
In response to the recent maritime incidents in the Arabian Sea, the Indian Navy has commenced focused maritime security operations in the region. The navy has significantly increased the presence of warships and enhanced air surveillance to safeguard the waters and ensure the safety of maritime activities, the Indian Navy said in a statement.
“The presence of Indian Navy warships and air surveillance in the region has been enhanced,” stated the Indian Navy. The navy is actively collaborating with national maritime agencies to coordinate efforts and implement effective security measures.
The primary objective of these operations is to secure the Arabian Sea and protect merchant marine activities from potential threats. The increased naval presence is expected to act as a deterrent and contribute to the overall safety and stability of the maritime environment.
The Indian Navy also deployed multiple Guided Missile Destroyers including INS Mormugao, INS Kochi and INS Kolkata, in various areas of the Arabian Sea to maintain a deterrent presence, the Indian Navy said in an official press release on December 25.
Moreover, long-range maritime reconnaissance P8I aircraft are also being regularly tasked with maintaining domain awareness. The release stated that the Western Naval Command’s Maritime Operations Centre is actively monitoring the situation in close coordination with the Coast Guard and all concerned agencies.
(with inputs from ANI)