Indian Navy carries out calibrated operation in high seas; forces 35 Somali pirates to surrender

In a calibrated operation, the Indian Navy on Saturday “coerced” 35 Pirates onboard a merchant ship around 1,400 nautical miles from the Indian coast to surrender and ensured the safe evacuation of 17 crew members without any injury, officials said. The Navy deployed its P-8I maritime patrol aircraft, frontline ships INS Kolkata and INS Subhadra, and high-altitude long-endurance (HALE) unmanned aerial vehicle. The elite MARCOS commandos were air-dropped for the operation by C-17 aircraft.

Earlier, the Navy said it foiled attempts by a group of Somali pirates to hijack ships in the high seas off the east coast of Somalia as it intercepted their vessel. The armed pirates had sailed out onboard a cargo ship named Ruen that was hijacked around three months back, they said.

“INS Kolkata, in the last 40 hours, through concerted actions successfully cornered and coerced all 35 Pirates to surrender and ensured safe evacuation of 17 crew members in the evening today from the pirate vessel without any injury,” Navy spokesperson Commander Vivek Madhwal said. The vessel MV Ruen was hijacked by Somali pirates on December 14 last year and was reported to have sailed out as a pirate ship towards conducting acts of piracy on the high seas, the Navy said.

In an earlier statement, the Navy said the pirates opened fire on the Indian warship, which took appropriate actions in self-defence under international law and to counter piracy, using minimal force to neutralise the pirates’ threat to shipping and seafarers. “The pirates onboard the vessel have been called upon to surrender and release the vessel and any civilians they may be holding against their will,” it said.

On Friday, the Navy said an Indian warship and a long-range maritime patrol aircraft extended assistance to a Bangladeshi-flagged cargo vessel after it was hijacked. It said the safety of the crew held hostage by the armed pirates was ascertained and the Indian Navy warship continued to maintain its presence in the close vicinity of the vessel till its arrival in the territorial waters of Somalia.

In the last few weeks, the Indian Navy assisted several merchant vessels in the Western Indian Ocean following attacks on them. The Indian Navy, earlier this month, foiled a piracy attempt on an Iranian-flagged fishing vessel with a crew of 11 Iranian and eight Pakistani nationals along the East coast of Somalia.

In January, Indian warship INS Sumitra rescued 19 Pakistani crew of a fishing vessel after pirates on the east coast of Somalia attacked their Iranian-flagged fishing vessel. The Navy on January 5 thwarted an attempted hijacking of Liberian-flagged vessel MV Lila Norfolk in the North Arabian Sea and rescued all its crew members.

Liberian-flagged vessel MV Chem Pluto, with 21 Indian crew members, was the target of a drone attack off India’s west coast on December 23. The Navy has already enhanced the deployment of its frontline ships and surveillance aircraft for maritime security operations given the maritime environment in the critical sea lanes, including the North and Central Arabian Sea.

There have been mounting global concerns over Houthi militants launching a series of attacks on cargo vessels in the Red Sea in the last few months.

Source: CNBC

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