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Ship with 15 Indian crew on board hijacked near Somalia coast; Navy deploys INS Chennai

The vessel, with 15 Indian crew members, has triggered heightened surveillance efforts, with Indian Navy aircraft strategically deployed. Communication channels have been successfully established with the ship's crew, providing authorities with crucial insights

Ship with 15 Indian crew on board hijacked near Somalia coast; Navy deploys INS Chennai
First Published Jan 5, 2024, 11:28 AM IST

Indian Navy has deployed platforms to swiftly respond to a maritime incident in the Arabian Sea involving a hijacking attempt onboard a Liberia-flagged bulk carrier on Friday. On Thursday evening, the United Kingdom Marine Trade Operations (UKMTO) received information that 5-6 unauthorised armed persons boarded a merchant vessel in the vicinity of 460 nautical miles East of Eyl, Somalia. 

"Crew mustered in the citadel. CSO reports that the ship's navigational lighting is limited and is likely to be below minimum anti-collision regulation specification," the UKTMO said.

Indian Navy spokesperson Commander Vivek Madhwal said that the Indian Navy had launched a maritime patrol aircraft and diverted its destroyer, INS Chennai to assist the vessel. The destroyer is in the sea for maritime security operations. 

The P8I aircraft overflew the vessel on Friday early morning and 'established contact with the vessel, ascertaining the safety of the crew'.

"Naval aircraft continues to monitor movement and INS Chennai is closing the vessel to render assistance," Madhwal said, adding that the overall situation is being closely monitored, in coordination with other agencies in the area.

Meanwhile, the UKMTO cautioned that the vessels navigating in the vicinity should be aware of the potential hazard. It also advised the vessels “to transit with caution and report any suspicious activity to UKMTO” 

"The Indian Navy remains committed to ensuring the safety of merchant shipping in the region along with international partners and friendly foreign countries," Madhwal said.

Last month too, the Indian Navy deployed its maritime patrol aircraft and warship to assist the Malta-flagged Vessel MV Ruen, which was hijacked by the pirates. Indian warship INS Kochi trailed the hijacked vessel until it reached Somalia's territorial waters. On December 18, one of the 18 sailors aboard MV Ruen was transferred to the Indian stealth destroyer for medical assistance following an injury. The injured sailor was subsequently disembarked at Oman the next day.

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