First Photos of a Houthi Attack on a Merchant Ship

drone attack damage to bulker
Damage sustained in the drone attack to the Genco Picardy (Indian Navy)

Published Jan 18, 2024 1:01 PM by The Maritime Executive


The Indian Navy went to the aid of the Genco Shipping & Trading Company bulker Genco Picardy (55,300 dwt) sailing in the Gulf of Aden after the vessel was hit by a projectile launched for Yemen. They are reporting the that the crew was uninjured and that the vessel remained seaworthy.

“Indian Naval EOD (explosive ordinance disposal) specialists from INS Visakhapatnam boarded the vessel in the early hours of Jan 18, 2024, to inspect the damaged area,” a Navy spokesperson reported. “EOD specialists, after a thorough inspection have rendered the ship safe for further transit.”

While not officially operating as part of the U.S.-led mission Operation Prosperity Guardian, the Indian Navy, and Coast Guard are patrolling regions in the west of India in the Indian Ocean and toward the Gulf of Aden in support of merchant shipping. INS Visakhapatnam, a stealth guided-missile destroyer, is one of the newest and most advanced vessels in the Navy, having been commissioned in November 2021. 

The Indian team assessed the damage to the vessel and ensured it was clear of any remaining explosives. They reported that the attack was carried out by a drone. U.S. CENTCOM also assessed that it was a one-way attack drone that hit the vessel which is registered in the Marshall Islands.

U.S.-based Genco Shipping issued a brief statement confirming the vessel had been struck by what they termed “an unidentified projectile” while transiting in the Gulf of Aden. They confirmed there are 22 crew, including nine Indian citizens, aboard and the vessel is loaded with a cargo of phosphate rock. 



Images released by the Indian Navy after providing assistance to the Genco Picardy


The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations assessed the vessel to have been in a position approximately 60 nautical miles southeast of Aden, Yemen when it was struck. The company described that damage to the vessel’s gangway as “limited,” but the photos show evidence of a wider spread fire. The Indian Navy reported the crew had extinguished the fire before its vessel reached the bulker about two hours after it was struck.

The Genco Picardy was the second U.S.-owned vessel and the third vessel this week struck by attacks launched by the Houthis. There have also been multiple reports of small boats approaching or following vessels in the Red Sea area.

U.S. military forces responded by downing a missile that had been launched toward a U.S. destroyer earlier in the week and reported several strikes on land-based targets. Overnight, the U.S. reports it struck 14 Houthi missile sites with missiles on launch rails that could have been fired at any time. The U.S. said the missiles presented an imminent threat to merchant vessels and U.S. Navy ships in the region.

These developments come as there are growing reports that the European Union is moving to launch an independent security effort in the Red Sea. French and Italian warships are already operating in the area (see Twitter postings below) and earlier today the European Parliament adopted a resolution condemning the attacks and calling on the European Union to take immediate action. Reuters, earlier in the week, reported EU member states were backing a plan to launch the security effort which would be coordinated with the U.S. warships operating in the Red Sea.