Indian Navy repulses pirate attack on Indian merchant vessel (Second Lead, changing dateline)

November 11th, 2008 - 7:11 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 11 (IANS) Responding swiftly to a distress call from an Indian merchant ship in the Gulf of Aden that was facing a pirate attack, an Indian Navy warship patrolling in the area took effective countermeasures to repulse the assault, the defence ministry here said.The attack on the MV Jag Arnav took place at about 10.30 a.m. Tuesday when the ship was 60 nautical miles east of Aden.

“The alarm raised by the merchant ship was monitored by an Indian naval ship patrolling in the vicinity,” a defence ministry statement said.

An armed helicopter with marine commandos was launched from the naval ship 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. The naval ship thereafter closed in on the Indian merchant ship to escort her to safety,” the statement added.

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,” the 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.

In July, the WFP appealed to global naval powers to help protect ships carrying life-saving assistance from pirate attacks, saying that as many as two million Somalis could go hungry without this essential help.

Somalia’s coastline has been identified by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) as the area with the highest risk of piracy in the world. For India, monitoring the waters off Africa’s east coast forms an essential part of securing its energy supplies.

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