US claims Iranian drone struck tanker off India’s coast.

A fire was successfully extinguished aboard the Chem Pluto with no casualties reported. While Iran has not provided any comments, Houthi rebels in Yemen, backed by Iran and supporting Hamas in the Israel-Gaza conflict, have recently targeted vessels in the Red Sea using drones and rockets. This incident is the first of its kind occurring far from the usual area of such attacks, according to maritime security firm Ambrey.

The Chem Pluto, a Liberia-flagged, Japanese-owned, and Netherlands-operated chemical tanker, was hit by a one-way attack drone fired from Iran, marking the first public accusation by the US of Iran directly targeting a ship. The vessel was heading from Saudi Arabia to India and was linked to Israel. The Houthis claim to target Israel-linked vessels over the Gaza conflict.

The Pentagon reported the incident occurred 200 nautical miles southwest of Veraval in India’s Gujarat state, within a heightened threat area for Iranian drones. The Indian navy sent aircraft and warships for assistance, but the incident could not be independently verified by the BBC.

In a separate development, two Houthi anti-ship ballistic missiles were fired into international shipping lanes in the Southern Red Sea, with the USS Laboon warship shooting down four drones from Houthi-controlled areas in Yemen. Several global shipping groups have suspended operations in the Red Sea due to increased attack risks.

The UK government pledged to ensure the route’s safety, with Defence Secretary Grant Shapps stating the commitment to repel attacks and prevent the Red Sea from becoming a “no-go area.” Foreign Secretary David Cameron labeled Iran as a “thoroughly malign influence,” emphasizing the need to send a clear message to prevent further escalation.

Chris Farrell from Neptune P2P Group highlighted nervousness in the region, noting that container ships were more likely to reroute due to the lack of stability, creating uncertainty among clients and shipping companies.

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