The Indian Navy’s guided missile destroyer, INS Visakhapatnam, sprang into action after the MV Marlin Luanda, a merchant vessel, was hit by a Houthi anti-ship missile in the Gulf of Aden. The incident occurred on the night of January 26 while INS Visakhapatnam was deployed in the region for anti-piracy operations.
The MV Marlin Luanda, with a crew of 22 Indians and 1 Bangladeshi, found itself in dire straits following the missile strike, which ignited a fire onboard the ship. Upon receiving the distress call, INS Visakhapatnam promptly mobilized a team equipped with firefighting gear to assist the crew and contain the blaze.
Confirming the incident, the Indian Navy revealed that the tanker, carrying Russian naphtha, a key component of crude oil, had sought urgent assistance. The Navy stated that, in response to MV Marlin Luanda’s request, INS Visakhapatnam had dispatched a team accompanied by firefighting equipment to aid the crew in enhancing firefighting operations aboard the distressed vessel.
Fortunately, all crew members aboard the Marlin Luanda were reported safe, and the fire in the cargo tank was successfully extinguished. Trafigura, the commodities trader associated with the vessel, issued a statement affirming the safety of the crew and the successful containment of the fire. The vessel is now en route to a safe harbour under its power.
This incident adds to a string of recent attacks by Yemen-based Houthi rebels targeting merchant ships in the Arabian Sea region. Just days before the assault on the MV Marlin Luanda, INS Visakhapatnam had responded to another distress call from the Marshall Island-flagged MV Genco Picardy, which came under a drone attack on January 17.
In that instance, Indian Naval specialists from INS Visakhapatnam boarded the vessel to assess the damage caused by the attack. Fortunately, the MV Genco Picardy, with its crew of 22 (including 9 Indians), reported no casualties, and the fire resulting from the drone strike was swiftly brought under control.
The Indian Navy’s proactive response to such incidents reflects its commitment to safeguarding maritime security in the region. With its rapid deployment and effective intervention, INS Visakhapatnam continues to play a pivotal role in ensuring the safety of merchant vessels navigating the volatile waters of the Gulf of Aden amidst escalating threats posed by militant groups like the Houthi rebels.