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Naval warship repulses pirate attack on Indian vessel

November 11, 2008 15:55 IST

In the first-ever action after being deployed in the Gulf of Aden, the Indian Navy on Tuesday thwarted an attempt by pirates to capture an Indian merchant vessel in the region.

The ship, M V Jag Arnav, has recently crossed the Suez Canal and was eastward bound when it was surrounded by pirates, who tried to board and hijack the ship, Navy sources said in New Delhi [Images].

When the 38,265-tonne bulk carrier, owned by Mumbai-based Great Eastern Shipping Company [Get Quote], raised an alarm, it caught the attention of the Indian Naval warship, INS Tabar, which was patrolling in the Gulf of Aden waters.

The warship rushed its commandos on helicopter to intervene and they successfully repulsed the pirates attacking the commercial carrier, sources added.

"A helicopter with marine commandos was launched from the naval warship to intervene and prevent the pirates from boarding and hijacking the merchant vessel. This timely and successful intervention led to the pirates aborting their attempt," sources said.

The attack took place around 10.30 hours about 60 nautical miles of Aden, when the pirates came on speed boats armed with automatic weapons, they said.

Later, INS Tabar, which was about 25 nautical miles away from the place of pirate attack, closed in on the merchant vessel and escorted it to safety.

In the wake of several incidents of merchant vessels coming under attack from pirates, India has on October 23 decided to deploy her warship in the Gulf of Aden on patrol duties with a mandate to intervene if any Indian vessel was in distress.

The decision came after pirates hijacked a Japanese vessel, M V Stolt Valor, in the same area and took the ship with 18 Indian sailors on board to a Somalian port on September 15 this year.

For the last two months, the Indian sailors from Stolt Valor have been held hostage by the Somalian pirates.

The Japanese shipping company has been holding negotiations with the pirates to secure the sailors' release, even as there were demands from their family members that Indian government should intervene and get them to safety.

In fact, India has identified that a large number of sea pirates were operating from the seaports of Eyl and Hobyo in Somalia and is closely monitoring movements of pirates in the area, navy sources said.

A sizable portion of India's trade flows through the Gulf of Aden and there has been a quantum increase in the number of piracy attacks in the region over the last few months.

Navy sources said these patrols by a warship are being carried out in coordination with the shipping ministry and are intended to protect Indian merchant vessels from being attacked by pirates and to instill confidence in the large sea-faring community from India.

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