The Indian Navy carried out an operation near the Red Sea, freeing the crew of a vessel from an attempted hijacking. The successful effort came after the Houthis escalated their attacks on civilian shipping in recent weeks, including using a new drone boat to strike a merchant vessel.
India announced that it rescued the crew of a ship facing a potential hijacking almost 500 miles off the coast of Somalia. The Indian Navy rescued the 21 crew on board, who had been evacuated. Either five or six armed attackers attempted to board the Liberian-flagged vessel.
The exact attackers have not been identified, but they could be either pirates from Somalia or Houthi rebels from Yemen. In the last several months, Houthi rebels successfully hijacked a ship linked to an Israeli businessman and took its crew of 25 hostages.
India has deployed multiple vessels to the region amid concerns that the Biden administration was not doing enough to protect the passageway to and from the Suez Canal that connects the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean.
Navy Chief Admiral R Hari Kumar says 🇮🇳India has deployed six warships in Anti Piracy and Anti Drone operations to shore up its seafaring prowess. The number is going to go up further. A proposal has been submitted to the Government in this regard and clearance is expected…
— All India Radio News (@airnewsalerts) January 7, 2024
The United States announced the launch of Operation Prosperity Guardian to protect ships transiting the Red Sea. However, despite the presence of warships from multiple countries, the attacks on shipping appear to have escalated, rather than declined.
Despite having ships nearby, India has not deployed military assets to the Red Sea.
A drone boat filled with explosives exploded in the Red Sea but caused no damage to nearby merchant or U.S. Navy vessels. Vice Admiral Brad Cooper said that the explosive drone ship “came within a couple of miles of ships operating in the area.”
He added that the nearby vessels watched the drone ship explode. He said that “at any time” there was a “risk of collateral damage when passing through the Houthi-controlled territory in the vicinity of the southern Red Sea.”
Houthi rebels control much of Yemen’s western half. The rebels are allied to the Islamic Republic of Iran and have also launched a number of unsuccessful missile and drone attacks against Israeli territory and U.S. Navy vessels.