India, China bury differences to fight off piracy attempt

India, China bury differences to fight off piracy attempt

Burying their intense military rivalry, the Indian and Chinese navies came together and repulsed a major piracy attack on a bulk carrier along the Gulf of Aden over the weekend.

All the 19 Filipino crew members on board MV OS 35, a Tuvalu-registered merchant vessel, are safe. The development comes at a time when India and China are engaged in a major war of words in the wake of the Dalai Lama’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh.

On Saturday night, after receiving distress calls from the bulk carrier, Indian Navy ships — INS Mumbai, INS Tarkash, INS Trishul and INS Aditya — which were passing through the Gulf of Aden on their way to the Mediterranean, were the first to respond to the SOS. The Chinese, Italian and Pakistani naval ships also responded to the call.

The ships rapidly closed in on the merchant vessel by the early hours of Sunday, the Indian Navy said in a statement. The Indian warships established contact with the captain of the merchant vessel, who, along with the crew, had locked himself up in a strong room on board (citadel), as per the standard operating procedure.

“An Indian Navy helicopter undertook an aerial reconnaissance of the merchant vessel at night and at sunrise to sanitise the upper decks of the merchant ship and ascertain the location of pirates, if still on board,” the statement read.

Emboldened by the Indian Navy’s helicopter cover, and on receiving the all-clear signal that no pirates were visible on the upper decks, some crew members gradually emerged from the strong room and carried out a search of the ship and ascertained that the pirates had fled the ship at night.

Subsequently, in a show of international maritime cooperation against piracy, a boarding party from the nearby Chinese navy ship went on board the merchant vessel, while the Indian naval helicopter provided air cover for the operation. It has been established that the 19 crew members are safe.

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