“BRAVO” Indian Navy!!!

published on November 19, 2008

India flexes muscle

Pioneer News Service | New Delhi

Navy sinks Somali pirates’ vessel in Gulf of Aden

The Indian Navy on Tuesday night dealt a severe blow to Somali pirates, who have spread terror in the Gulf of Aden, and sunk a vessel when their patrol warship came under fire from the bandits. Two other smaller speed-boats carrying the pirates managed to escape.

The action comes a week after the Indian Navy warship INS Tabar, which was responsible for destroying the sea robbers’ vessel, foiled two bids by the pirates to hijack an Indian and a Saudi Arabia merchant ship on November 11.

The intervention came after the pirates released 18 Indian sailors held hostage for nearly two months along with their Japanese-owned merchant ship, MV Stolt Valor. The sailors are on the way back home and expected to touch base in Mumbai by November 25.

The Tuesday night operation was the first major offensive by the Indian Navy after the Government gave the go-ahead in late October to warships for patrolling the pirate-infested Gulf of Aden. The operation came even as powerful navies of the US, UK, France and Canada are yet to undertake any such mission.

The INS Tabar, a frigate armed with the most modern weaponry and a helicopter, swung into action around 8 pm (IST) when its radar picked up the movement of a small ship towing two smaller boats 285 nautical miles south-west of Salalah, Oman. This vessel was similar in description to the “mother vessel” mentioned in various piracy bulletins, Navy spokesman Commander Nirad Sinha said here on Wednesday.

Giving details of the operation, he said the pirates approach the targeted ship in a relatively big ship and then groups of armed bandits raced towards the merchant ship in smaller speedboats.

The Indian warship closed in on the pirates’ vessel and asked her to stop for questioning. On repeated calls, the pirates threatened to blow up the INS Tabar if it came any closer, Sinha said. The pirates on the vessel’s upper deck fired at the Indian ship, led by Captain PK Banerjee, with guns and rocket-propelled grenade launchers.

The Indian ship retaliated and fired upon the pirate vessel. As a result of the firing from medium machine guns, fire broke out on the pirate ship and explosions were heard, possibly due to the exploding of ammunition stored in the vessel, the spokesman said.

Almost at the same time, two speedboats were observed breaking off to escape. The Indian frigate chased the first boat, which was later found abandoned. The other boat managed to escape into darkness, Sinha said.

While some of the pirates could have escaped in the speedboats, Sinha did not rule out the possibility of a few bandits getting killed in the firing on the ‘mother’ ship.

Entrusted with the responsibility of providing security and escorting the Indian flag-bearing merchant ships in the Gulf of Aden, where pirates have wreaked havoc by carrying as many as 90 attacks this year and hijacking 13 ships, the INS Tabar has successfully escorted 35 ships — including a number of foreign-flagged vessels.

Somalia has two ports, Hobyo and Eyl, and the pirates use them for docking the hijacked ships and their crew. They then demand huge amounts of ransom. As per an estimate, 13 hijacked ships were now anchored in these ports along with 250-odd sailors.

Last week, India had urged the international maritime community to deploy an international peace-keeping force under the UN umbrella for patrolling in this region.

Brazen buccaneers

  • A cargo ship, laden with 35,000 tonne of wheat and manned by 25 crew (including some Indians), was hijacked in the Gulf of Aden on Tuesday night

  • Somali businessmen are sending food, cigarettes, drinks to a hijacked Saudi supertanker, Sirius Star which the Somali pirates seized with 25 crew on Saturday in one of the most audacious hijackings

  • Underscoring the audacity of pirates operating in the Gulf of Aden, India has sought coordination from global and regional powers to combat piracy. At the moment, several navies are patrolling the Gulf of Aden, one of the busiest and the most pirate-infested shipping lanes

  • 127 Filipino seamen are being held hostage aboard seven vessels, hijacked by pirates off the Somalia coast this year. The figure includes the 19 Filipinos among the 25-member crew of the Saudi supertanker

  • The 18 Indian sailors on board MV Stolt Valor, which was released by Somali pirates after two months, are expected to reach Mumbai by November 25

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