Iranian Attack Drone Strikes Chemical Tanker in Indian Ocean, Marking Seventh Such Incident Since 2021


Iranian Attack Drone Strikes Chemical Tanker in Indian Ocean, Marking Seventh Such Incident Since 2021

In the latest incident, a chemical tanker, the CHEM PLUTO, operating in the Indian Ocean was struck by an Iranian attack drone, according to a statement from a US Department of Defense official. This marks the seventh Iranian attack on commercial shipping since 2021. The Liberia-flagged, Japanese-owned, and Netherlands-operated tanker was hit at approximately 10 a.m. local time, 200 nautical miles from the coast of India. The attack involved a one-way drone designed to impact its target without returning to its origin.

Fortunately, there were no casualties reported, and the fire on board the tanker has been extinguished. The US Navy confirmed that no US Navy vessels were in the vicinity, and Naval Forces Central Command is in communication with the affected vessel. India’s coast guard reported that there were 20 Indian crew members and one Vietnamese on board during the attack, with no casualties reported.

After conducting damage assessment and repairs, the chemical tanker, MV Chem Pluto, is now making its way toward Mumbai under escort by a patrol vessel. The incident comes amidst a series of attacks by Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen on commercial and merchant ships in the Red Sea. The US Central Command reported more incidents involving one-way attack drones in the Red Sea, with a crude oil tanker being hit and another chemical tanker reporting a near miss. Additionally, two anti-ship ballistic missiles were fired into the southern Red Sea, and the USS Laboon intercepted four aerial drones.

The US recently declassified intelligence indicating Iran’s deep involvement in planning operations against commercial vessels in the Red Sea, suggesting a connection to ongoing tensions in the region. Operation Prosperity Guardian, a maritime coalition involving more than 20 nations, has been launched to enhance security in the southern Red Sea.

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