NEW DELHI, Jan 29: A swift response by an Indian Navy ship, INS Sumitra deployed in the Gulf of Aden, helped quickly resolving a hijack situation and ensured safe release of the hijacked fishing vessel and its crew.
“INS Sumitra, on anti-piracy operations along the East coast of Somalia and the Gulf of Aden, responded to a distress message regarding hijacking of an Iranian flagged Fishing Vessel (FV) Iman. The FV had been boarded by pirates and the crew taken as hostages,” the Navy said in a statement on Monday.
“INS Sumitra intercepted the vessel, acted in accordance with the established Standard Operating Procedures to coerce the pirates for safe release of crew along with the boat and ensured successful release of all 17 crew members along with the boat.” The FV was subsequently sanitised and released for onward transit, the Navy stated.
Piracy which has almost vanished since the peak around 2010, has come back now in the region in the backdrop of Houthi drone and missile attacks on commercial shipping. In December, Malta-flagged tanker m.v. Ruen, with 18 crew onboard, was hijacked by Somali pirates approximately 700 miles from the Indian coast and the vessel is currently off the Somali coast.
In the second instance in the North Arabian Sea in early January, marine commandos of the Indian Navy secured and safely evacuated all 21 crew, including 15 Indians, from the merchant vessel Lila Norfolk after it came under a hijacking attempt. In response to such incidents, the Indian Navy enhanced maritime surveillance in Central and North Arabian Sea and augmented force levels. It currently has around 12 warships deployed in the Arabian Sea and Gulf of Aden for maritime security operations. Task Groups comprising destroyers and frigates have been deployed to undertake maritime security operations and render assistance to merchant vessels in case of any piracy incidents.