Crude oil tanker hit by a one-way attack drone in Red Sea

The United States shot down four drones headed towards a US destroyer in the southern Red Sea and launched from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen on Saturday, US Central Command (Centcom) said.

A report by US Central Command says the navy, operating as part of Operation Prosperity Guardian, successfully intercepted four unmanned aerial drones originating from Houthi-controlled areas in Yemen that were inbound to the USS Laboon.

“These attacks represent the 14th and 15th attacks on commercial shipping by Houthi militants since Oct. 17,” Centcom said on Sunday.

The Iran-aligned Houthis have disrupted world trade for weeks with attacks on ships passing through the Red Sea.

Houthi forces in Yemen have been targeting the commercial ships, claiming the attacks as revenge against Israel.

The U.S. Naval Forces Central Command received reports from two ships in the southern Red Sea that they were under attack.

The Norwegian-flagged, owned, and operated chemical/oil tanker, Blaamanen reported a near miss of a Houthi one-way attack drone with no injuries or damage reported.

A second vessel, the crude oil tanker Sai baba, reported that it was hit by a one-way attack drone with no injuries, as reported by Centcom.

No ships reported being impacted by the ballistic missiles.

Meanwhile, the Indian navy responded to a maritime incident in Arabian Sea involving a missile/ drone attack on Liberian-flagged chemical tanker Chem Pluto. 

The vessel with 22 crew (21 Indian and one Vietnamese) was reported on fire after being hit by a projectile on December 23 likely to be a missile or drone, a spokesperson of the Indian navy said.

Responding swiftly to the developing situation, the Indian navy diverted a maritime patrol aircraft operating in the area to undertake routine surveillance. Indian navy also diverted the Indian naval ship Mormugao to assess the situation and provide assistance to Chem Pluto.

The aircraft crew reported all 22 crew members to be safe and that the fire had been extinguished.

The navy also communicated details of developing situation to all Indian maritime agencies for rendering necessary assistance.

Note: photo USS Laboon (US Navy image by Elexia Morelos).