Indian Navy foils hijacks of two ships off Aden (Third Lead, changing dateline)

November 11th, 2008 - 9:54 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, Nov 11 (IANS) In a daring rescue mission, an Indian Navy warship patrolling the Gulf of Aden successfully foiled an attempt by pirates to hijack an Indian and a Saudi Arabian merchant vessel Tuesday morning.According to the Indian Navy statement issued here, at around 10.30 a.m. Tuesday, the Indian vessel M.V. Jag Arnav sent an SOS message about a hijacking attempt on it some 60 nautical miles east of Aden.

The Indian Navy stealth frigate INS Tabar that was patrolling the area picked up the SOS and immediately despatched an armed helicopter with marine commandos on a rescue mission.

Reaching the spot, the rescuers noticed at least four or five high-speed attack boats with around five armed pirate aboard each who were attempting to capture the Indian ship and also a Saudi Arabian vessel, the chemical tanker NCC Timaha, the Indian Navy said.

The naval helicopter opened fire at the pirates and their boats, prompting them to abandon their hijack attempts and make good their escape.

INS Tabar, which had by then reached the spot, also fired its guns to ensure that the pirates did not launch a fresh attack on the vessels, the navy said, adding that the warship thereafter escorted the M.V. Jag Arnav to safety.

Commenting on the rescue mission, Indian Navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta said: “Piracy is a crime which all men of war are required to combat at all times.

“Indian Naval Ships operating in piracy infected areas are always in a high state of alert and have the capability to intervene by air or ship borne weapons. Their mandate is to ensure that the safety of our sovereign assets is maintained,” Mehta added.

The Jag Arnav, a 38,265 tonne-bulk carrier is owned by the Great Eastern Shipping Co Ltd. The ship had transited the Suez Canal a few days ago and was eastward bound in the Gulf of Aden when she came under attack from the pirates.

The Indian Navy has been conducting anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden since Oct 23 as a sizeable portion of India’s trade flows through the waterway and there has been a quantum increase in the number of piracy attacks in the region over the last few months.

“The patrols are carried out in coordination with the ministry of shipping and are intended to protect Indian merchant vessels from being attacked by pirates and also to instil confidence in our large seafaring community,” a defence ministry statement said.

The Indian Navy has for long been keen on playing a bigger role in the region under the aegis of the UN as this would enhance its credentials.

The navy is also keen to provide a helping hand to the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) by responding to urgent humanitarian needs in Somalia.

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