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Navy rescues Panama-flagged ship with 22 Indians from Houthi rebels

This was the latest incident in the series of the drone and missile strikes and hijackings which escalated since November 2023.

navyNEW DELHI: A swift response by the Indian Navy on a distress call raised by a Panama-flagged ship Merchant Vessel (MV) Andromeda Star helped in safeguarding and securing its crew which were mostly Indians.

The Indian Navy (IN) on Sunday said, “A mission deployed Indian Naval Destroyer INS Kochi responded to the maritime security incident involving attack on Panama-flagged crude oil tanker MV Andromeda Star PM 26 April. The vessel is continuing its scheduled journey to the next port.”

This was the latest incident in the series of the drone and missile strikes and hijackings which escalated since November 2023.

“The MV was intercepted by the IN ship and an aerial recce by helicopter was undertaken to assess the situation. An Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team was deployed onboard MV for residual risk assessment,” the Navy added.

“A total of 30 crew (including 22 Indian nationals) are reported to be safe and the vessel is continuing its scheduled transit to the next Port,” it stated.

The swift action of the Indian Navy ship reiterates the commitment and resolve of the Indian Navy in safeguarding the seafarers plying through the region, it said.

INS Kochi is a guided missile destroyer and part of the beefed up Indian deployment in the area. Since December, as this newspaper reported, in response to the rise in maritime security incidents on merchant vessels transiting through international shipping lanes in Red Sea, Gulf of Aden and Central and North Arabian Sea, the Indian Navy has substantially enhanced maritime surveillance efforts and augmented force levels.

These assets have been pressed in to keep the sea lanes of communication between Bab el-Mandeb to the Indian coast safe for merchant shipping and missile attacks taking place in the Middle East.

Towards effective surveillance of Exclusive Economic Zone, the Navy is operating in close coordination with the Coast Guard. The piracy incident on MV Ruen and the recent drone attack on MV Chem Pluto indicates a shift in maritime incidents closer to Indian Exclusive Economic Zone.

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