Pentagon Says Tanker Hit off India Coast by Drone from Iran

The Pentagon has confirmed that a chemical tanker off the coast of India was targeted by a drone, allegedly fired from Iran. The vessel, named Chem Pluto, sustained structural damage but reported no casualties among its crew members. The incident occurred approximately 200 nautical miles off the coast of India.

Pentagon Says Tanker Hit off India Coast by Drone from Iran

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The Pentagon’s statement revealed that the attack took place around 10 a.m. and involved a one way attack drone fired from Iran.

The vessel, flying under a Liberian flag, is Japanese owned and operated by a Dutch entity. The Chem Pluto was en route from Saudi Arabia to India when the drone struck, causing a fire that was extinguished.

This incident comes amidst a series of drone and missile attacks by Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels on a shipping lane in the Red Sea.

The U.S. accused Iran of close involvement in these attacks just a day before the drone strike off the Indian coast.

The U.S. military, in communication with the Chem Pluto, is closely monitoring the situation as the vessel continues toward its destination in India.

The Pentagon’s attribution of the attack to Iran is a development, representing the first time the U.S. has publicly accused Iran of directly targeting a ship.

The Pentagon’s statement also said that this is the seventh Iranian attack on commercial shipping since 2021.

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Iran has not officially commented on the allegations made by the U.S. The deputy foreign minister of Iran dismissed the accusations, claiming that the Houthi rebels were acting independently in their attacks on the Red Sea shipping lane.

The Houthis, in turn, assert that these attacks are in solidarity with Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Iran-backed groups expressing their opposition to Israel’s actions in Gaza.

The U.S. had previously accused Iran of supplying Houthi rebels with drones, missiles, and tactical intelligence for attacks on commercial ships.

The attack on the Chem Pluto has responses from multiple stakeholders. The Indian navy, upon receiving a request for assistance, dispatched an aircraft and a warship to assess the situation. The vessel is being escorted toward Mumbai.

The UK government has to ensure the safety of the Red Sea shipping route, which has a surge in attacks, making many global shipping groups to suspend operations in the region.

Defense Secretary Grant Shapps affirmed the UK’s commitment to repelling attacks on vessels and preventing the Red Sea from becoming a no-go area.

Houthi rebels launched over 100 drone and missile attacks, targeting numerous merchant vessels involving more than 35 different countries, according to the Pentagon.

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Major shipping companies have rerouted their vessels around the southern tip of Africa to avoid the heightened risks in the Red Sea.

The U.S. Central Command reported that Houthi rebels fired two anti-ship ballistic missiles into international shipping lanes in the Southern Red Sea.

The USS Laboon, a U.S. warship patrolling the area, successfully shot down four unmanned aerial drones inbound to the vessel.

With concerns growing about the impact of these attacks on global trade and maritime security. The UK has joined over 20 countries in establishing a multinational naval task force to protect Red Sea shipping.

Foreign Secretary David Cameron expressed strong condemnation of Iran, describing it as a “thoroughly malign influence in the region and in the world.” He addressed the need to send a clear message to Iran that the escalation will not be tolerated.

Chris Farrell from Neptune P2P Group, a UK maritime security company, said the uncertainty in the region, leading to nervousness among shipping companies.

Container ships are reportedly more likely to reroute than larger vessels due to the lack of stability in the area.

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