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'Bharat Mata Ki Jai, Proud of Indian Navy': Rescued MV Lila Norfolk crew members after MARCOs op (WATCH)

Indian Navy's elite marine commandos on Friday rescued all 21 crew members including 15 Indians from a bulk carrier after boarding it from a warship in a swift operation in the North Arabian Sea that followed after around five to six armed pirates attempted to hijack the Liberian-flagged vessel.

Bharat Mata Ki Jai Proud of Indian Navy': Rescued MV Lila Norfolk crew members after MARCOs op (WATCH) snt
First Published Jan 6, 2024, 11:14 AM IST

On Friday, the Indian Navy's elite marine commandos conducted a rapid rescue operation in the North Arabian Sea, successfully saving all 21 crew members, including 15 Indians, from a bulk carrier. The operation was initiated after approximately five to six armed pirates attempted to hijack the Liberian-flagged vessel. Responding to the distress message from MV Lila Norfolk on the UK Maritime Trade Operations portal, the Navy deployed a warship, maritime patrol aircraft P-8I, helicopters, and MQ9B Predator drones to assist in securing the vessel.

Commander Vivek Madhwal, the spokesperson for the Indian Navy, stated that the frontline warship INS Chennai intercepted the cargo vessel at 3:15 pm. MARCOs commandos conducted a thorough check and secured the vessel. It has been revealed that all crew members had been sheltering in a secure room on the ship since Thursday evening when the pirates boarded the cargo vessel.

Also read: WATCH: First visuals of Indian Navy's MARCOs daring rescue op onboard hijacked vessel MV Lila Norfolk

Following the daring recue operation by MARCOs, first video of the crew members thanking the Indian Navy for prompt assistance and chanting Bharat Mata Ki Jai in chorus went viral on X, formerly Twitter.

"We were caught for 24 hours and it was the Indian Navy that came and saved us," said one rescued crew member. Another added, "Indian Navy, we are proud of you."

Following the rescue operation, Madhwal mentioned that the Indian ship INS Chennai was providing assistance in restoring power generation and propulsion to enable MV Lila Norfolk to resume its journey to the next port of call. Upon receiving the alert regarding the attempted hijacking of MV Lila Norfolk, the Navy redirected INS Chennai from its anti-piracy patrol to aid the distressed vessel.

Continuous surveillance of the vessel was maintained through maritime patrol aircraft P8I and Predator MQ9B drones until the commandos were deployed.

Against the backdrop of the Israel-Hamas conflict, concerns have escalated regarding Houthi militants intensifying attacks on merchant vessels in the Red Sea. Navy Chief Admiral R Hari Kumar has issued clear instructions to decisively address such maritime incidents.

The cargo vessel, owned by Lila Global, saw its crew successfully rescued by the Indian Navy ship INS Chennai, according to Steve Kunzer, the CEO of Lila Global.

"The vessel and crew are all safe. We want to thank the Agencies that assisted in their rescue, in particular the Indian Navy, Capt Rohit Bajpai, Director IFC-IOR and the officials of DG Shipping," he said in a statement.

"We also want to thank the professionalism of our crew who reacted safely and responsibly under the circumstances," he said.

This recent incident adds to a series of maritime events occurring in the strategic waters over the past few weeks. On December 23, the Liberian-flagged vessel MV Chem Pluto, carrying 21 Indian crew members, was targeted in a drone attack off India's west coast. Simultaneously, another commercial oil tanker en route to India experienced a suspected drone strike in the Southern Red Sea, with a crew of 25 Indians on board. On December 14, pirates hijacked the Malta-flagged vessel MV Ruen.

The Indian Navy stated on Wednesday that it remains vigilant, monitoring the maritime security situation in the North and Central Arabian Sea and Gulf of Aden.


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