Damage Photos: Tanker Attacked by Iran Arrives in India

damaged tanker arriving in India
Chem Pluto was escorted to Mumbai by the Indian Coast Guard (ICG)

Published Dec 25, 2023 2:29 PM by The Maritime Executive


The Indian Navy released photos showing the damage to the chemical tanker Chem Pluto which was stuck on Saturday by an attack that the United States said was launched with a one-way attack drone from Iran. The vessel was approximately 200 miles off the coast of India in the Arabian Sea at the time it was hit and reported a fire which the crew was able to extinguish.

The pictures show a hole at the stern of the vessel near deck level. There is also interior damage although the shipping company reported that none of the 21 crewmembers was injured in the attack. 

The 21,320 dwt vessel arrived in the outer anchorage off Mumbai, India on the afternoon of Monday, December 25 about two days after it was struck. The tanker was accompanied by the Indian Coast Guard vessel Vikram after having been contacted by the Indian Navy vessel Mormugao to assess the damage and required support. 

After an initial inspection by a specialist team from the Naval Explosive Ordinance Disposal unit, the Indian Navy reported that signs point to a drone attack. However, they are undertaking an analysis of the area where the vessel was struck and collecting debris from the ship. After completing a further forensic and technical analysis, they hope to establish the vector of the attack and if it was a missile or a drone as well as the type and amount of explosive used.




The vessel is expected to also undergo additional checks and then offload its oil cargo in a ship-to-ship transfer.  

U.S. officials quickly reported that it was a drone attack launched by Iran, but in a weekly news conference today, a spokesperson for Iran’s Foreign Ministry denied Iran’s involvement in the attack.

“These repetitive claims are rejected as baseless,” said Nasser Kana’ani in reports by Iranian state media. He said the U.S.’s allegations “are endless,” while reiterating Iran’s support for the Houthis in Yemen. He however contended that the resistance in Yemen “has its own tools … and acts with its own decisions and capabilities.”

In providing its update on the ongoing investigation, India’s Defense Ministry also outlined several steps the country is taking to protect merchant shipping. They reported that the Coast Guard has enhanced patrolling in the Arabian Sea. In addition, the Indian Navy has deployed three warships, Mormugao, Kochi, and Kolkata, into the area. They are also using a long-range patrol aircraft for surveillance in the region.