India Vows Vengeance After Merchant Vessel Attacks

December 26, 2023 4:37 PM
An undated photo of INS Kolkata. Indian Navy Photo

New Delhi’s defense officials vowed to bring those responsible for the recent attacks on two predominantly Indian-crewed merchant vessels to justice amid the ongoing Houthi and Iranian missile and drone strikes in the Red Sea and beyond.

India’s assertive tone on the Red and Arabian Sea attacks comes after the attacks on MV Sai Baba and MV Chem Pluto, the latter of which was struck by a one-way attack drone only 200 nautical miles off the Indian coast.

According to the Pentagon, this attack was launched from Iran instead of Yemen where the majority of ballistic missile and drone strikes have been conducted into the Red Sea since the start of the crisis that has strangled the strategic global shipping lane. However, India has yet to claim a perpetrator as it continues its investigation on the stricken Chem Pluto in Mumbai.

Nonetheless, India’s Defense Minister Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh promised retribution for these attacks during the commissioning ceremony of INS Imphal (D68), the Indian Navy’s third Visakhapatnam-class destroyer.

“Those who have carried out these attacks, we will find them from the bottom of the sea, and strict action will be taken against them,” said Shri Rajnath Singh.

The defense minister emphasized India’s role as the “Net Security Provider in the entire Indian Ocean Region” and commitment to keeping the sea lanes open for greater regional trade in collaboration with international partners.

Shri Rajnath Singh also attributed these attacks to India’s “growing economic and strategic power,” which has “filled some forces with jealousy and hatred.”

Chief of the Naval Staff Adm. R Hari Kumar highlighted India’s commitment to keeping the sea lanes open. While it is not known if India is participating in U.S.-led Operation Prosperity Guardian, New Delhi has deployed a number of its assets in the Red and Arabian Seas.

Kumar said since the crisis began the Indian Navy has deployed four Kolkata and Visakhapatnam destroyers to the area to counter further attacks on merchant vessels. Adm. Kumar also revealed that the Indian Navy’s American-built P-8I Poseiden and MQ-9B SeaGuardian aircraft have been deployed as well under efforts to boost surveillance. Indian Coast Guard ships and aircraft are also contributing to the efforts.

Aaron-Matthew Lariosa

Aaron-Matthew Lariosa

Aaron-Matthew Lariosa is a freelance defense journalist based in Washington, D.C.

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