The Indian Navy on Monday said that it has deployed guided missile destroyer ships to maintain a deterrent presence in the Arabian Sea in view of recent attacks on commercial shipping.

The Navy made the statement after it inspected Liberian-flagged chemical tanker MV Chem Pluto, which had suffered a drone strike on Saturday. The tanker, carrying a crew of 21 Indians and a Vietnamese, was hit by a drone off India’s west coast when it was on its way to the New Mangalore port.

The Indian Navy and Coast Guard had sent vessels, including the ICGS Vikram, which patrols India’s exclusive economic zone in the Indian Ocean, towards the merchant ship to assist it.

“On her arrival, the Indian Navy explosive ordinance disposal team inspected the vessel to make a preliminary assessment of the type and nature of attack,” the Navy said on Monday. “The analysis of the area of attack and debris found on the ship points towards a drone attack.”

It added that forensic and technical analysis will be required to establish the nature of attack including type and amount of explosive used.

“Considering the recent spate of attacks in the Arabian Sea, Indian Navy has deployed Guided Missile Destroyers, INS Mormugao, INS Kochi and INS Kolkata in various areas to maintain a deterrent presence,” the navy statement said.

On Saturday, the United States had accused Iran of attacking MV Chem Pluto. However, Iran denied the accusation.

Hossein Amirabdollahian, the foreign minister of Iran, said at a press conference in Tehran on Saturday that the United States’ “accusation is baseless” and that the spate of maritime attacks is “a completely Yemeni decision in support and defence of Gaza”.

Since November, the Houthis, who are backed by Iran, have claimed responsibility for several attacks on commercial shipping in the Red Sea. The attacks have increased navigation risks along the crucial international maritime route.

On Saturday, a Gabon-flagged oil tanker with 25 Indian crew was also attacked by a drone in the Southern Red Sea on Saturday. No casualties were reported, however.

The oil tanker, named MV Sai Baba, was attacked by the Houthis, according to the United States’ Department of Defense. The Gabon-flagged tanker was attacked along with another Norwegian-flagged vessel. The tanker is reportedly managed by an Indian company and has an all-Indian crew.