Indian Navy trying to hunt down pirates involved in hijacking attempt

On Friday, Indian Navy's elite marine commandos rescued all 21 crew members of the commercial vessel after boarding it from frontline warship INS Chennai.
Last Updated 06 January 2024, 08:01 IST

New Delhi: Indian Naval forces are on Saturday investigating suspected vessels in the North Arabian Sea to track down the pirates involved in an attempt to hijack a merchant vessel with 21 crew members including 15 Indians, officials said.

The Indian Navy on Friday thwarted the attempted hijacking of Liberian-flagged vessel MV Lila Norfolk and rescued all its crew members.

The crew of the bulk carrier are now engaged in restoring the propulsion system, power supply and steering gear of the platform, the Navy said. "Thereafter, MV Lila Norfolk will recommence her passage to her destination under escort of the Indian naval warship," it said.

The Navy deployed a warship, maritime patrol aircraft P-8I, helicopters and and MQ9B Predator drones to assist the vessel, MV Lila Norfolk, after it sent a message on the UK Maritime Trade Operations portal, saying unknown armed personnel had boarded it on Thursday evening.

On Friday, Indian Navy's elite marine commandos rescued all 21 crew members of the commercial vessel after boarding it from frontline warship INS Chennai.

The Navy came out with a statement detailing its response to the hijacking attempt.

In a video shared by the Navy, three Indian crew members of the bulk carrier thanked the force for rescuing them. "I am proud of Indian Navy," said one of them.

The Navy said it swiftly responded to the hijacking incident by deploying considerable strength of assets, both ships and aircraft, with an aggressive intent to counter the attack by pirates.

"INS Chennai guided missile destroyer arrived at the scene of action by 1515 hours. Continuous aerial recce of MV Lila Norfolk was undertaken by MQ9B (Sea Guardian drone), P8I (maritime patrol aircraft)and integral helicopters," it said in the statement.

It said that subsequently, the Indian Navy Marine Commandos boarded MV Lila Norfolk and undertook thorough sanitisation of the upper decks, machinery compartments and living spaces.

"The team did not find any pirates onboard. Forceful warnings by the Indian Naval aircraft to the vessel and likely interception by the Indian Navy warship, probably compelled the pirates to escape during the night hours," the Navy said.

"All 21 crew of MV Lila Norfolk have been rescued and are safe. Indian Naval forces are investigating the suspected vessels in the area," it said.

"Presently, the crew of MV is engaged in restoring propulsion, power supply and steering gear," it said.

This is among a series of such maritime incidents witnessed in the strategic waters over the last few weeks.

Liberian-flagged vessel MV Chem Pluto, with 21 Indian crew members, was the target of a drone attack off India's west coast on December 23.

Besides MV Chem Pluto, another commercial oil tanker that was on the way to India came under a suspected drone strike in the Southern Red Sea on the same day. The vessel had a team of 25 Indian crew.

(Published 06 January 2024, 08:01 IST)

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