The Indian Navy has swiftly deployed its guided missile destroyer, INS Visakhapatnam, to the Gulf of Aden in response to a distress call from the British oil tanker, Marlin Luanda, on the night of January 26. The vessel, targeted by Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthis, is carrying 22 Indians and 1 Bangladeshi crew.
In a statement, the Navy confirmed its involvement in firefighting efforts, stating, “The fire fighting efforts onboard the distressed Merchant Vessel are being augmented by the NBCD team along with firefighting equipment deployed by INS Visakhapatnam to assist the crew onboard the MV.”
The Marlin Luanda, operated on behalf of the trading firm Trafigura, was struck by a missile while transiting the Red Sea. This incident marks a significant naval confrontation between Western forces and the Middle East, with a US warship, the destroyer USS Carney, also targeted by the Houthi group.
Notably, this is not the first time the Houthi group has attacked an oil tanker with Indian nationals. On December 24, 2023, an oil tanker carrying 25 Indians was hit by a drone fired by Yemen’s Houthi rebels in the Red Sea.
The Houthi group has been actively targeting oil tankers since November, citing Israel’s military actions in Palestine as the motive. In response to the Gulf of Aden attack, the UK government emphasized its commitment to safeguarding commercial shipping, stating, “We are aware of reports that the M/V Marlin Luanda has sustained damage from an attack in the Gulf of Aden. Any attacks on commercial shipping are completely unacceptable, and the UK and our allies reserve the right to respond appropriately.”
While Houthi military spokespersons have acknowledged the operation on the British-flagged oil tanker, the attack on the USS Carney remains unacknowledged. The situation underscores the escalating tensions at sea and the need for coordinated international responses to ensure maritime security.