In its November 2023 monthly report, the Indian Navy’s Information Fusion Centre – Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR) has emphasised the increasing peril of drone attacks in the Red Sea and Northern Arabian Sea. The report terms this trend as a “growing cause of concern for the commercial shipping and global trade transiting through the Indian Ocean region (IOR).”
The centre, located in Gurugram, observed five drone attacks in the first eleven months of this year, with three incidents specifically recorded in November.
All in all, it monitored five drone attacks in 2023 (from Jan 2023 to Nov 2023), four in 2022, and three in 2021. The numbers could go up, as December reported more drone attacks in the region.
Houthi rebels from Yemen are targeting vessels suspected of traveling to or from Israel, responding to Israeli actions in Gaza. The rising threat in the Red Sea has led major shipping companies to reroute vessels, choosing alternative paths to avoid the volatile region.
The monthly report said, “These attacks on commercial shipping pose serious risks to the lives, cargo and may result in sinking of vessels, marine environment pollution, blockade of trade (if attacked near choke points) and most importantly will lead to increase of insurance rates thereby affecting the global economy.”
The report listed attacks comprising a drone assault on the Liberian-flagged oil tanker CAMPO SQUARE in the northern Arabian Sea on February 10, a rotary unmanned aerial vehicle approaching a vessel within 10 metres 130 NM SW of Salalah, Oman, on March 1.
In November, three instances occurred – a US Navy ship downing a drone in the Red Sea off Yemen on the 15th, a drone attack reported on the Malta-flagged container ship CMA CGM SYMI in the Arabian Sea on the 24th, and a US Navy ship shooting down a drone in the Bab el Mandeb strait off the coast of Yemen on the 29th.
The report pointed out that, “this kind of attack on commercial shipping raises maritime safety and security concerns amongst the seafarers transiting through the IOR.”