Drone strike hits Mangalore-bound merchant ship off Gujarat coast: maritime agencies

08:53PM Sat 23 Dec, 2023

New Delhi: A drone strike caused an explosion and fire on a merchant ship in the Arabian Sea on Saturday, but no casualties have been reported. The crew includes 20 Indians, and an Indian Coast Guard vessel is moving towards the merchant vessel, MV Chem Pluto, which is 217 nautical miles off the Porbandar coast, news agency ANI reported.
Coast Guard officials said a Dornier maritime surveillance aircraft has established communication with the distressed vessel.

The vessel, which is carrying crude oil, was going towards Mangaluru from a port in Saudi Arabia. Defence officials said the Coast Guard ship, ICGS Vikram, which was patrolling the Indian Exclusive Economic Zone, has been directed towards the merchant ship in distress. The Coast Guard vessel has alerted all ships in the area to provide assistance to it. All crew members are safe.

Coast Guard officials told ANI that, after the drone attack, the ship switched off its Automatic Identification System, which can be used for tracking. They said the ship's power generation system is functioning now, and a few checks are being carried out before it leaves for its destination.

The incident comes days after the Indian Navy helped in the evacuation of an injured sailor from a hijacked Malta-flagged cargo vessel on Monday. It had been reported that six “pirates” had illegally boarded the ship, the MV Ruen, in the Arabian Sea.