The US Pentagon says an Iranian drone “attack” hit a tanker ship off the coast of Gujarat

Drone attack on a ship off the coast of India: The Pentagon has claimed that the drone that struck a chemical tanker, carrying about 20 Indian crew members, on Saturday off the coast of Porbandar in Gujarat state in the Arabian Sea, was launched from Iran. The Pentagon said in a statement on Sunday that the attack occurred around 10 a.m. local time and did not cause any casualties on board the Japanese-owned ship, adding that a fire had been extinguished.

The Indian Navy and Coast Guard have deployed assets to assist the merchant ship MV Chem Pluto.

The statement added that the US military “remains in contact with the ship as it heads toward a destination in India.”

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“The ship CHEM PLUTO, a Liberian-flagged, Japanese-owned and Dutch-operated chemical tanker, was attacked at approximately 10 a.m. local time (6 a.m. GMT) today in the Indian Ocean, 200 nautical miles off the coast of India,” a Pentagon spokesman told the agency. Reuters News: “By a unidirectional attack drone launched from Iran.”

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The incident highlights the escalating regional tensions and new risks threatening shipping lanes after the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7.

The Iranian government, as well as its allied armed forces in Yemen, have publicly criticized the Israeli government’s military operation in Gaza. Thousands of Palestinian citizens have been killed in the ongoing conflict, according to aid monitors.

The Pentagon statement said this was “the seventh Iranian attack on commercial ships since 2021.”

Reuters reported that the spokesman for the Iranian delegation to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, which came amid a wave of drone and missile attacks launched by Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen on a vital shipping lane in the Red Sea.

The Indian Navy and Coast Guard intervene

The Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard have deployed assets to assist the merchant ship MV Chem Pluto. Officials said the ship was carrying chemicals from the Saudi port of Jubail to Mangalore. It was struck 217 nautical miles from Porbandar at around 11.30am, according to the UK Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO).

In a late-night statement, the Indian Coast Guard said the ship had begun making its way towards Mumbai to conduct a damage assessment and repair its power generation systems.

“The Dornier Coast Guard aircraft cleared the area and established contact with Kim Pluto. The ship began making its way towards Mumbai after conducting a damage assessment and repairing its power generation systems,” it said.

“The ship is likely to enter Mumbai and require escort assistance due to steering problems. The Indian Coast Guard ship Vikram will escort the ship during its passage. The Indian Coast Guard Operations Center is closely monitoring the situation,” it added.

The UKMTO quoted the 21-member crew as reporting that everyone on board was safe and that the attack came from an unmanned aerial system (UAS), resulting in an explosion and fire that disabled the power supply.

“The Indian Coast Guard Maritime Coordination Center (MRCC) established real-time communications with the ship’s agent and ascertained that there was no loss of life and assured all assistance. The crew managed to extinguish the ship’s fire,” a Coast Guard statement said.

(With inputs from Rahul Singh in New Delhi and Molik Pathak in Ahmedabad)


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