In a recent spell of rising tensions between Yemen’s Houthi militia and the United States, the Indian Navy’s INS Vishakhapatnam rescued a Marshall Islands-flagged merchant vessel (MV) in the Gulf of Aden after an attack by the Houthis. The Indian Navy vessel reportedly responded to a distress call after a drone attack on the MV Genco Picardy in the Red Sea, 60 nautical miles South of Port Aden, rescuing the ship and putting out the fire onboard.
The vessel’s shipping operator said that the vessel was “hit by a projectile while it was transiting through the Gulf of Aden with a cargo of phosphate rock,” confirming the attack (as reported by Reuters).
Upon inspection by the Explosive Ordnance Disposal expert, the ship was declared to be safe after the fire was taken under control and the vessel continued to its next port of call.
Role of the Indian Navy
In a statement regarding the incident on X, the Indian Navy tweeted that "Indian Navy's Guided Missile Destroyer INS Visakhapatnam, mission deployed in Gulf of Aden for anti-piracy ops, swiftly responded to distress call by Marshall Island flagged MV Genco Picardy following a drone attack at 2311 hrs on 17 Jan 24 & intercepted the MV at 0030 hrs on 18 Jan 24 to provide assistance."
#IndianNavy's Guided Missile Destroyer #INSVisakhapatnam, mission deployed in #GulfofAden for #antipiracy ops, swiftly responded to 𝙙𝙞𝙨𝙩𝙧𝙚𝙨𝙨 𝙘𝙖𝙡𝙡 by Marshall Island flagged MV #GencoPicardy following a 𝙙𝙧𝙤𝙣𝙚 𝙖𝙩𝙩𝙖𝙘𝙠 at 2311 hrs on #17Jan 24 & intercepted the… pic.twitter.com/FOs5aAxLzV
— SpokespersonNavy (@indiannavy) January 18, 2024
“MV Genco Picardy with 22 crew (incl 09 Indian) reported nil casualties & fire under control. EOD specialist from INS Visakhapatnam boarded MV in early hours of 18 Jan. Damaged area thoroughly inspected & rendered safe by EOD specialists for transiting to next port of call,” continued the statement.
The Houthis and the U.S.
As the Israel-Hamas war continues to spill over into the Middle East, the Houthis have claimed to be acting in solidarity with Palestine and have used missiles and drones to target commercial vessels in the Red Sea region. This has come parallel and in retaliation to the strikes by the U.S. military and British coalition on Houthi military targets in Yemen.
Impact on the Red Sea region
The Houthi attacks are targetted on a route that accounts for about 15% of the world’s shipping traffic. As a consequence of these attacks, trade has been severely affected between Asia and Europe since November of last year with the freight container volume through the region having fallen by around 65%.
This has made many shipping companies opt to not operate in the area, forcing them to decide to take a much longer alternate route around the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa, adversely affecting global trade and economy.
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