NEW DELHI, Dec 16: The Indian Navy is closely monitoring a reportedly hijacked ship with Malta flag and is currently heading towards Somalia.
An official spokesman of the Indian Navy said on Saturday that an Indian warship received a distress signal from the Maltese cargo vessel MV Ruen in the Arabian Sea on the evening of Thursday and immediately diverted an Indian Naval Maritime Patrol Aircraft and warship on Anti-Piracy patrol.
“The vessel, with 18 crew on-board, had sent a Mayday message on UKMTO portal, PM 14 Dec 23, indicating boarding by approx six unknown personnel. Responding swiftly to the developing situation, Indian Navy diverted its Naval Maritime Patrol aircraft undertaking surveillance in the area and its warship on Anti-Piracy patrol in the Gulf Aden to locate & assist MV Ruen,” Indian Navy said in a statement. The Navy warship has intercepted the hijacked vessel and is closely monitoring its movement, it said.
The Navy’s maritime patrol aircraft undertaking surveillance in the area and its warship on anti-piracy patrol in the Gulf of Aden were deployed to locate and assist the vessel — MV Ruen — after receiving the distress call from it.
The hijacking attempt was reported on December 14 and the Indian Navy sent its mission deployed platforms to the area of the incident early on December 15, officials said. The Navy said its aircraft flew over the hijacked vessel and it has been continuously monitoring movement of the vessel, which is now heading towards the coast of Somalia.
“Responding swiftly to the developing situation, the Indian Navy diverted its naval maritime patrol aircraft undertaking surveillance in the area and its warship on anti-piracy patrol in the Gulf of Aden to locate and assist MV Ruen,” an Indian Navy spokesperson said.
“The aircraft overflew the hijacked vessel on early morning of December 15 and the aircraft has been continuously monitoring movement of the vessel, which is now heading towards the coast of Somalia,” he said. The official said the Indian Navy’s warship deployed in the Gulf of Aden for anti-piracy patrol also intercepted the MV Ruen on Saturday morning. The overall situation is being closely monitored, in coordination with other agencies in the area, he said.
“The Indian Navy remains committed to being a first responder in the region and ensuring safety of merchant shipping, along with international partners and friendly foreign countries,” the statement said.
The ship, MV Ruen, was heading towards Somalia when it was attacked on Thursday. UK’s Marine Trade Operations said the crew has lost control of the vessel.
The capture of the vessel appears to be the first major attack by Somali pirates since 2017, following counter-piracy efforts by several countries stopped such seizures in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean.
The UK Marine body has advised ships to remain on alert while travelling in the Arabian Sea near Somalia as a piracy action group is active in the area. “Vessels are advised to transit with caution and report any suspicious activity,” the warning said.
In Somalia’s breakaway Puntland region, a member of a group that helped organise raids on ships in the past said he had heard pirates had managed to seize a vessel. “Six of my pirate friends managed to capture a ship and they will bring it to the coast of the eastern region of Puntland,” Mukhtar Mohamud said from the coastal city of Qandala.