Indian Navy escorts Pak vessel

Indian Navy escorts Pak vessel

Indian frigate INS Godavari escorted the 12,000 tonnes Pakistani cargo-vessel, MV Islamabad, with an all Pakistani crew of 38, from a port in Egypt to the United Arab Emirates, through the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC) in the Gulf of Aden, last week.

This is the first Pakistani-flag ship escorted by Indian Navy through the IRTC. Indian Navy  is operating in the corridor since October, 2008. In the last three years, as many as 1708 ships have been escorted by Indian Navy. This included more than hundred Chinese and Hong Kong flag ships, sources said.

Close encounter

In June this year, during the rescue operations for MV Suez, a Panama-flag vessel with Indian crew, which was released by the pirates, a Pakistani warship PNS Babur came tantalizingly close to Indian frigate Godavari, violating sea norms and damaging the frigate’s helicopter nets.

“The Pakistani ship came much closer to our ship than what was prudent to damage one of our helicopter nets. There are clear rules of navigation at sea,” Navy Chief Admiral Nirmal Verma stated. The issue has been since taken up with international maritime authorities. The mid-sea rift between the Indian and Pakistani Naval ships stirred a diplomatic row. New Delhi lodged a formal protest with the Pakistani High Commission over the incident.

India so far has an unblemished record in the anti-piracy patrolling in the high seas, as no merchant vessel escorted by its naval ships in the Gulf of Aden, since 2008, has been hijacked by Somali pirates.

Pakistani merchant vessel MV Islamabad had sought INS Godavari’s assistance in providing escort in accordance with  an international arrangement, coordinated by the UK Maritime Trade Office. The Pakistani-flag ship was a part of a convoy escorted by Godavari.

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