HomeIndian DefenceNaval chief flags surge in drone and piracy attacks

Naval chief flags surge in drone and piracy attacks

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“Since November 19, 2023, there have been a total of 30 drone or piracy attacks. So, in about 35 days, it roughly translates into one attack a day,” said Naval Chief Admiral R Hari Kumar.

Kumar was addressing a press briefing held at the Naval Dockyard in Mumbai on Tuesday after the commissioning of the latest stealth-guided missile destroyer ‘INS Imphal’. He expressed deep concern over the increasing number of drone and piracy attacks.

“As you may be aware, we are actively engaged in anti-piracy and anti-drone strike operations. The rising number of attacks is currently a cause for concern. Looking back at the previous year, there were only a few incidents—approximately four or five — occurring at a rate of one every two to three months. So, the frequency has definitely gone up,” he remarked. Flagging the gravity of the situation, he added, “We have decided to take very robust action to protect our merchant shipping.”

Whenever there is a disturbance at sea, we have observed a subsequent increase in insurance rates. The Joint War Committee in London, comprising shipping and insurance companies, has collaboratively decided to raise insurance and freight charges. So, our effort is now to make sure that this area gets pushed away from our coastlines, safeguarding our ships from any adverse impact,” he explained.

Providing additional details, Kumar noted: “Approximately half of the 30 reported attacks occurred in the Red Sea. Notably, there have been no incidents targeting Indian-flagged merchant vessels. However, there were instances of attacks on vessels flagged in other countries but with Indian crew members—around five or six ships experienced such incidents. Fortunately, all crew members are safe, and there is no cause for concern.”

Kumar said that the closest attack, approximately 220 miles from the coastline and outside the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), is being closelymonitored to prevent any further encroachment. He emphasised the commitment to ensuring the safety of Indian ships.On December 23, merchant vessel MV Chem Pluto, with a crew of 21 Indians, experienced a drone strike around 217 nautical miles from Porbandar. In a separate incident, a commercial crude oil tanker flying the flag of Gabon, with a crew of 25 Indians, encountered a drone attack in the southern Red Sea on December 24.

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