Indian Navy has sleepless nights with 23 pirates aboard ship

December 15th, 2008 - 7:55 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Dec 15 (IANS) The arrest of 23 pirates from the Gulf of Aden is giving sleepless nights to the Indian Navy, as it is struggling with the legalities over whom to hand the brigands to and ensuring their prosecution.The Indian Navy’s guided-missile destroyer INS Mysore, which has been patrolling the pirate-infested Gulf of Aden, Saturday arrested 12 Somalian and 11 Yemeni nationals and seized their two boats - a dhow and a skiff - after repulsing an attack on the Ethiopian vessel MV Gibe.

“The pirates have been onboard the ship for nearly two days now. With no laws in place to prosecute them, we are having a hard time in finding a way to deal with them,” a senior navy official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“Though the warship is pretty large, the onus of having the pirates on board is large. From the number of mouths to be fed having increased to the security to be put in place for them,” he said.

“At least three sentries have to be on guard or else these pirates may create a nuisance by fighting among themselves and inflicting injuries,” the official said.

One of the options that the Indian Navy is mulling is to disembark the pirates at Djibouti in the Horn of Africa and hand them over to French authorities. But nothing is clear as of now.

While escorting merchant vessels in the Gulf of Aden, the Mysore received a distress call from the MV Gibe at about 11 a.m Saturday.

“MV Gibe reported that she was under attack by two boats closing her and firing small arms. MV Gibe opened retaliatory fire with small arms that were held onboard the vessel. The position reported by the merchant vessel was 13 nautical miles from Mysore at that time,” the Indian Navy has said.

Mysore immediately altered course to close in on MV Gibe and also launched her integral armed helicopter, carrying marine commandos.

“On sighting the helicopter and Mysore, the pirate boats disengaged from MV Gibe and attempted escape. The Mysore closed on the vessels and ordered them to stop.”

“The larger boat was a green coloured dhow of 8-10 metres length. It had taken the second smaller boat, a skiff, under its tow. Subsequently, the name of the dhow was identified as ‘Salahaddin’ and its hull number as 758(2),” the spokesman said.

The Mysore’s marine commandoes boarded the dhow at 12.30 p.m. and carried out a search. Twenty-three pirates surrendered on boarding, the spokesman said.

A search of the dhow revealed a substantial cache of arms and equipment, including seven AK-47 and three other automatic rifles; 13 loaded magazines; a rocket-propelled grenade-launcher along with rockets, cartridges and grenades; three outboard motors and a GPS receiver.

This is the third rescue the Indian Navy has effected since it began anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden early in November.

On Nov 18, the navy earned worldwide accolades after the stealth frigate INS Tabar sank a Somali pirate vessel after coming under attack.

On Nov 8, INS Tabar had, in a daring rescue mission, foiled an attempt by pirates to hijack two ships - an Indian and a Saudi Arabian merchant vessels.

Somali pirates have attempted 95 hijackings this year alone, a 75 percent increase since 2007.

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