Did our best to help Indian sailors of MV Suez: Navy chief

June 24th, 2011 - 6:11 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, June 24 (IANS) The Indian Navy Friday warded off criticism from the families of six Indian crew members of an Egyptian cargo vessel freed by pirates 10 days ago, saying it had done its best to assist them by seeking assistance from the nearest warship at that point of time.

Even as the six Indians among the 22-member crew of MV Suez returned home after they were brought to Karachi by Pakistani naval ship PNS Babar, Indian Navy chief Admiral Nirmal Verma told reporters here that Indian warships too have assisted foreign crew members of other cargo ships in the pirate-infested waters.

He said Indian warship INS Godavari had made itself available for the Indian crew of MV Suez at sea as television reporting of the events had made the navy feel that the family members of the sailors needed reassurance of their safety.

Verma said the families of the sailors are not aware that Indian Navy had done so much behind the scenes to seek help from international navies.

“So much happens behind the scenes. Unless there is a physical presence (of an Indian warship), many don’t know what is happening. When something (of this sort) happens, there is instant communication from our operations room in Delhi, which is manned 24X7, to navies operating in the Gulf of Aden and along the east coast of Africa. We speak to the maritime organisation in London and seek assistance,” he said.

“There is so much which is happening and we keep track of all of our warships deployed. In terms of help…one that can best help is the one that can come fastest and is the closest. And the warship that was closest (PNS Babar) had come and helped in this instance,” he added.

Noting that when the request for escorting MV Suez had come, INS Godavari was escorting other merchant ships with 22 Indian crew members on board. “There is no way INS Godavari could have left them, as they would have been susceptible to piracy,” he said.

After INS Godavari finished its escort duty in the Gulf of Aden, it rushed to MV Suez, which was already on its way to Oman under the Pakistani warship’s escort, to show its flag and to reassure the six Indian sailors that an Indian warship was nearby, Verma said.

“But when Godavari finished the escort, it seemed from all the TV reporting that the families of the six Indians need assurance on their safety. So we decided to show our flag, which means a lot,” he added.

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