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6 Mar, 2024 15:54

Indian Navy escorts Houthi-hit merchant ship to safety (VIDEO)

Yemeni rebels have vowed to target all Israel-linked vessels passing through the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden in support of Palestine
Indian Navy escorts Houthi-hit merchant ship to safety  (VIDEO)

An Indian naval warship has assisted a Liberia-flagged container ship that caught fire after being hit by a projectile near Yemen’s port city of Aden on Monday, officials have said. The destroyer INS Kolkata was diverted towards the vessel when its crew, which included 13 Indian nationals, raised the alarm after being hit. 

The statement released by the Navy on Tuesday said 12 Indian naval fire-fighters boarded the container vessel, the MSC Sky II, and assisted in extinguishing a “residual fire.” The Indian destroyer later escorted the vessel towards the territorial waters of Djibouti in East Africa. 

Switzerland-headquartered MSC, which owns the ship, said the vessel had been hit by a missile about 85 miles (136km) southeast of Aden and 170 miles (274km) southeast of the Bab al-Mandab Strait while en route from Singapore to Djibouti. The missile caused a small fire that was extinguished and none of the crew members were injured, the company said. 

Houthi rebels took responsibility for the attack, stating the vessel was hit with “a number of suitable naval missiles.” The group has vowed to target Israel-linked ships passing through the crucial Red Sea and Gulf of Aden passages in a show of support for Palestine. The US and a coalition of allies have struck Houthi targets in Yemen in response and designated the militia as a terrorist group. 

India’s Navy has recently expanded its role in the region, deploying several warships and reconnaissance aircraft to ensure safe passage for merchant ships. Over the past few months, several naval missions to rescue commercial vessels threatened by pirates and militants have been carried out by New Dehli's fleet. 

The country’s naval chief, Admiral R. Hari Kumar, characterized the situation in the Red Sea as “fragile” to the Indian news channel WION in January, and cited attacks in the Arabian Sea as a “cause of concern” for New Delhi. 

Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar expressed “great concern” over the Houthi attacks during a trip to Iran in January. His Iranian counterpart, Amir-Abdollahian, said that Yemeni leaders have vowed to stop ships that are sailing towards the “occupied territories” to deliver arms as long as “war and genocide” continue in Gaza. 

Meanwhile, India could lose billions in exports this fiscal year due to threats to cargo vessels and rising shipping costs, Bloomberg reported. According to JP Morgan, with 30% of global container trade going through the Suez Canal, the Red Sea shipping crisis is impacting supply chains and has sent freight prices surging five-fold, particularly on routes from Asia to Europe.

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