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Indian Naval Warship has Reached Hijacked Cargo Ship, Warned Pirates to Abandon the Ship

Indian Naval Warship has Reached Hijacked Cargo Ship, Warned Pirates to Abandon the Ship

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Manas Dasgupta

NEW DELHI, Jan 5: Indian naval warship has reached the hijacked cargo ship “MV Lila Norfolk” with 15 Indian crew on-board and has warned the pirates to abandon the ship and release the ship from their clutches, military officials said on Friday.

The Indian crew on board are safe and Marine Commandos MARCOS are ready for operations, officials added. The ship was hijacked late Thursday evening near the coast of Somalia.

The Indian naval warship, INS Chennai, which was diverted towards MV Lila Norfolk after hearing the news of its hijacking, has launched its helicopter and issued warning to pirates to abandon the hijacked vessel.

Last month the Navy deployed several warships into the sea to “maintain a deterrent presence” after a string of recent shipping attacks, including a drone attack near India’s coast blamed on Iran by the United States.

The latest attack comes at a time when many vessels have been rerouted from the Red Sea, where Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels have carried out drone and missile attacks in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza, where Israel is battling Hamas.

The ship, MV Lila Norfolk, was hijacked near Somalia’s coast and the navy received information about it on Thursday evening. Responding to the distress call of a hijacking attempt from the Liberian-flagged vessel in the Arabian Sea, Indian navy immediately diverted INS Chennai and deployed it to assist the vessel. A naval aircraft overflew the hijacked vessel Friday and established contact with it. The ship sent a message on the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations portal saying five to six unknown armed personnel had boarded on Thursday evening.

“Indian Navy’s mission deployed platforms responded swiftly to a maritime incident in the Arabian Sea involving a hijacking attempt on-board Liberia Flagged bulk carrier. The vessel had sent a message on UKMTO (U.K. Maritime Trade Operations) portal indicating boarding by approximately five to six unknown armed personnel in the evening on Thursday,” the Navy said in a statement.

“The aircraft overflew the vessel on early morning of Friday and established contact with the vessel, ascertaining the Safety of the crew. Naval aircraft continues to monitor movement and INS Chennai is closing the vessel to render assistance.” The overall situation is being closely monitored, in coordination with other agencies and multinational forces in the area, the Navy said. The crew, which includes Indians, is currently inside the citadel, the strong room inside a ship which also has communication.

This is the second hijacking incident in the region which has completely gone down from the peak a decade back. Last month, Malta-flagged tanker MV Ruen with 18 crew on-board was hijacked by Somali pirates approximately 700 miles from the Indian coast and the vessel is currently off the Somali coast.

In addition, there have been a series of attacks on merchant ships from Houthi rebels in Yemen in the Red Sea as well as the Arabian Sea including a few instances where Indian-crewed vessels like MV Chem Pluto and MV Sai baba headed to India were targetted recently. Following the incidents, the Indian navy substantially increased the maritime surveillance efforts in the Central and North Arabian Sea and augmented force levels. Earlier this week, the navy said it had investigated a large number of fishing vessels and boarded vessels of interest in the North and Central Arabian Sea.

Task Groups comprising destroyers and frigates have been deployed to undertake maritime security operations and render assistance to merchant vessels in case of any incident and aerial surveillance by long-range maritime patrol aircraft and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles has been enhanced to have a complete maritime domain awareness.

 

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