India brings 35 Somali pirates to Mumbai

Navy vows to ensure safer Indian Ocean

New Delhi: Indian Navy warship INS Kolkata on Saturday reached Mumbai with 35 apprehended Somali pirates and handed them to local police for further legal action in accordance with Indian laws, specifically the Maritime Anti Piracy Act 2022.

Vowing further naval interventions to secure distressed shipping assets on the high seas, Navy Chief, Admiral R. Hari Kumar on Saturday flagged concerns over the resurfacing of piracy as an ‘industry’ to gain from 'disorder in the region'. Indian Navy on Saturday completed 100 days of operation ‘Sankalp’ launched in view of Houthis and pirates attacks in the Gulf of Aden, and Arabian Sea. During this time, the Navy has responded to 18 incidents and has played a pivotal role as the ‘First Responder’ and ‘Preferred Security Partner’ in the Indian Ocean Region. Some 110 lives were saved (including 45 Indian sea farers) during the operation.

“This is the Indian Ocean, named after us, and if we don’t take action, then who will? Bhartiya Nau Sena will take affirmative action to ensure there is safety and security in the Indian Ocean,” said Navy chief.

In a high action operation on March 16, Indian Navy elite commandos MARCOS had boarded a Maltese-flagged merchant vessel Ruen in Arabian sea which was hijacked by Somali pirates in December and were using it as a mother ship to launch more hijacking attempts in the high seas.

Due to Navy action 35 pirates on vessel ex-MV Ruen had surrendered and the operation ensured safe evacuation of 17 crew members held hostage for over three months.

Indian Navy specialists searched and sanitised the merchant ship with respect to arms, ammunition and contraband, rendering it safe. In addition, assessment of seaworthiness and essential repairs were undertaken by the naval technical team, for making the ship fit for further voyage. On request from the ship’s company, Navibulgar, the crew of MV Ruen were reinstated onboard the ship. It reverted to her to earlier status and hoisted the flag of Malta.

MV Ruen proceeded to the next port of Salalah (Oman), under escort of Indian Navy's vessel INS Subhadra to safeguard it against further pirate attack. The pirates were on Saturday brought to Mumbai for legal action.

Indian Navy responded to the manifestation of Israel-Hamas conflict in the maritime domain by re-orienting and significantly enhancing the scope of its ongoing maritime security operations from mid December 2023. The arduous efforts of the Indian Navy since December 2023 involved deployment of over 5000 personnel at sea, over 450 ship days (with over 21 ships deployed) and 900 hours of flying by the maritime surveillance aircraft to address threats in the maritime domain.

"We have deployed 10 warships in the entire region for anti-piracy, anti-missile, and anti-drone operations under Operation Sankalp. The task is to ensure safety and stability for merchant vessels carrying cargo to reach shores safely. Because they are deployed there, they can respond to attacks or incidents as first responders," said Admiral Kumar.

The Navy chief said no Indian vessels were targeted by pirates, adding that the Houthi rebels were targeting vessels linked to Israel.

"None of our Indian vessels have been targeted. The Houthis have been targeting vessels with linkages to Israel. They are also targeting ships with flags of Western countries like the UK and the US. We are getting involved because we have Indian crew on almost all these ships," he said.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle )
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