India to scale down anti-piracy operations in Gulf of Aden

January 14th, 2009 - 1:49 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Jan 14 (IANS) The Indian Navy is getting ready to scale down operations in the piracy infested Gulf of Aden, where it has been facing action for over two months, due to operational deployments and exercises back home.The navy will be sending a smaller missile-guided frigate to replace the Delhi-class missile-guided destroyer INS Mysore, which repulsed pirate attacks on two occasions and led to the arrest of 23 pirates.

“INS Mysore, which is currently patrolling the Gulf of Aden, will be replaced soon. And a Brahmaputra-class guided-missile frigate is most likely to be the replacement. It is a faster vessel,” a senior navy official said on condition of anonymity.

The Indian Navy had sent the INS Mysore, one of the largest and powerful vessels in its fleet, to replace its frontline warship INS Tabar, reasoning that it would not need to make frequent visits to the port for replenishments during the prolonged deployment.

The decision to send a smaller platform in the Gulf of Aden, one of the busiest and most piracy infested sea lanes in the world, follows an operational alert post the Nov 26-29 Mumbai terror attack and a major Indo-Russian naval exercise scheduled later this month.

The Indian Navy has just concluded an amphibious exercise with the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force (IAF) in the Arabian Sea. The next in line is the Indo-Russian drill from Jan 25-31, in which the navy will field a destroyer and two frigates apart from a kilo-class submarine.

“The missile frigate is faster, but still a smaller ship and is not capable of lengthy deployments like INS Mysore,” another official said explaining the capabilities of the two vessels.

The scaling down of the navy’s commitment in anti-piracy operations is also influenced by the absence of any global coalition to combat piracy in the region.

The deployment of Indian Navy ships in the Gulf of Aden last year came as piracy off Somalia surged in recent months with the Horn of Africa nation descending further into chaos.

Last year, 112-odd incidents of piracy, including hijacking of a Saudi supertanker carrying crude oil worth $100 million, were reported in the Gulf of Aden.

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