New Delhi | In a swift operation, a guided missile destroyer of the Indian Navy intercepted a cargo vessel with 22 crew members, including nine Indians, little over an hour after the Marshall Island-flagged ship came under a drone strike in the Gulf of Aden on Wednesday night.
The strike on the cargo vessel MV Genco Picardy around 60 nautical miles South of Port Aden came amid increasing global concerns over attacks on merchant ships in the Red Sea and Arabian Sea.
There was no report of any casualties and the fire on the vessel was contained, officials said.
The Indian Navy's frontline warship INS Visakhapatnam responded within an hour to the distress call by MV Genco Picardy following the drone attack at 2311 hours on Wednesday, they said.
The Indian Navy's EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) specialists boarded the vessel early Thursday morning to inspect the damaged area, they said, adding the vessel was cleared further transit following thorough scrutiny.
The vessel is proceeding to the next port of call.
"The INS Visakhapatnam, mission deployed in Gulf of Aden for anti-piracy operations, swiftly responded to a distress call by Marshall Island flagged MV Genco Picardy following a drone attack at 2311 hours on January 17," the Navy said.
It said the warship intercepted the vessels at 0030 hours Thursday in order to provide assistance.
"Indian Naval EOD specialists from INS Visakhapatnam boarded the vessel in early hours of January 18 to inspect the damaged area. The EOD specialists, after a thorough inspection, have rendered the area safe for further transit," the Navy said in a statement.
Navy spokesperson Commander Vivek Madhwal said INS Visakhapatnam was undertaking anti-piracy patrol in the Gulf of Aden.
The Indian Navy on January 5 thwarted an attempted hijacking of Liberian-flagged vessel MV Lila Norfolk in the North Arabian Sea and rescued all its crew members.
Liberian-flagged vessel MV Chem Pluto, with 21 Indian crew members, was the target of a drone attack off India's west coast on December 23.
Besides MV Chem Pluto, another commercial oil tanker that was on the way to India came under a suspected drone strike in the Southern Red Sea on the same day. The vessel had a team of 25 Indian crew.
The Navy has already enhanced deployment of its frontline ships and surveillance aircraft for maritime security operations in view of the maritime environment in the critical sea lanes, including in the North and Central Arabian Sea.