US-owned Marshall Island flagged Merchant Vessel Genco Picardy was hit by a one-way attack UAV launched by the Houthis at approximately 11:00 PM (IST) on 17 Jan 2024. The Genco Picardy was transiting through the Red Sea when it beaconed a distress call at 11:11 PM (IST).

INS Visakhapatnam, a destroyer mission deployed for anti-piracy patrol in the region, acknowledged and intercepted the ship following the distress call. The vessel was intercepted at 00:30 AM (IST) on 18 Jan 2024 to assist. MV Genco Picardy, with 22 crew (09 Indian), reported 0 casualties and fire under control.

Genco Picardy Hit By A Uav
 Genco Picardy damaged by an attack UAV (Indian MoD photo)

“Indian Naval EOD specialists from INS Visakhapatnam boarded the vessel in early hours of 18 Jan 24 to inspect the damaged area. EOD specialists, after a thorough inspection have rendered the area safe for further transit. The vessel is proceeding to the next port of call.”

Indian MoD press release

This is not the first incident of a merchant vessel hit by an attack UAV in the region. Liberian flagged MV Chem Pluto was attacked by an attack UAV last month, at over 200nmi from the Indian Coast. ICGS Vikram approached and assisted the ship.

The Indian Navy has deployed over ten warships, including at least five destroyers, to deal with anti-piracy in the region, the second largest force after the United States Navy. Indian Navy has assisted over four ships in the last 30 days that were either hit by an attack UAV or hijacked.

So far, there have been no casualties caused by the attack UAVs launched from the Houthi-occupied regions of Yemen. The United States launched ‘Operation Prosperity Guardian’ in Dec 2023 to counter the threat of the Houthi attacks on commercial traffic in the region.

The United States has conducted several strikes on the Houthi missile launchers in Yemen. A strike was carried out on 18 Jan 2024 by the US military, eliminating 14 Houthi missile launchers.