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19 Dec, 2023 12:45

India sends warships to Yemen’s coast amid Red Sea tensions

The two guided missile destroyers were tasked with patrolling the waters near Aden amid disruptions involving Houthi rebels
India sends warships to Yemen’s coast amid Red Sea tensions

India has reportedly deployed two naval destroyers in the Gulf of Aden, which connects the Red Sea in the West with the Arabian Sea in the East, as part of maritime security and anti-piracy operations.

The development comes a day after the US set up a multinational task force to protect merchant ships targeted by Yemen’s Houthi rebels in response to the Israel-Hamas war. Two Indian guided missile destroyers, the INS Kochi and INS Kolkata, have been tasked with monitoring and protecting merchant vessels in the Gulf of Aden, through which one-sixth of all global commercial shipping passes, Hindustan Times reported on Tuesday.

According to the report, the INS Kochi has been tasked with protecting merchant vessels against Somalian pirates at the mouth of the Red Sea, while the INS Kolkata has been stationed in the Gulf of Aden to bolster security in the area.

The move comes days after the Indian Navy sent an aircraft that overflew the MV Ruen, a Malta-flagged vessel that was hijacked by Somalian pirates who reportedly boarded the ship, managed by Bulgaria’s Navigation Maritime Bulgare, near the Yemeni island of Socotra on October 15.

"The Indian Navy remains committed to being a first responder in the region and ensuring the safety of merchant shipping, along with international partners and friendly foreign countries,” the Indian Navy said in its statement.

While Somali pirates hijack merchant tankers for ransom, Houthi rebels remain the major threat to international shipping as they target vessels, particularly those en route to Israeli ports, with missiles and drones.

The attacks have intensified in recent weeks as a reaction to the Israel-Hamas war. On Monday, the rebel group said it had attacked the Norwegian-owned Swan Atlantic and the MSC Clara using naval drones to “show solidarity” with Palestinians in Gaza.

Reports of India stepping up its presence in the region come on the heels of the US launching an expanded maritime protection force along with countries like the UK, Canada, France, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Seychelles, and others to help secure shipping traffic through the troubled waters.

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced the coalition’s initiative on Monday, saying Operation Prosperity Guardian would work to ensure freedom of navigation through the Red Sea and in the Gulf of Aden.Austin urged “countries that seek to uphold the foundational principle of freedom of navigation” to come together against the attacks. “These attacks are reckless, dangerous, and they violate international law,” Austin said during an interaction in Tel Aviv.