New Delhi: Days after Indian Navy warship INS Sumitra intercepted two vessels and rescued two hijacked vessels from Somali pirates, the Pakistani and Iranian crew of the ships thanked the Indian Navy for saving them from the pirates. The Indian Navy released a video of the anti-piracy operations in the Indian Ocean Region.
INS Sumitra successfully rescued fishing vessel Al Naeemi and 19 crew, all Pakistani nationals, from 11 Somali pirates, along the East Coast of Somalia and the Gulf of Aden on Monday. This came within 36 hours after INS Sumitra, which was deployed on anti-piracy operations, rescued another fishing vessel FV Iman with 17 crew members on board.
INS Sumitra, the indigenous offshore patrol vessel of the Indian Navy, had been deployed for anti-piracy and maritime security operations east of Somalia and the Gulf of Aden. The video uploaded by the Navy shows warning shots being fired before the vessels were boarded during the anti-piracy mission, after which the pirates were disarmed and the hostages rescued.
A member of the rescued Pakistani-Iranian crew explained how pirates dumped their weapons after seeing the Indian Navy. “We were held by Somali pirates. Then, Somali pirates got scared seeing Indian Navy… Thank you Indian Navy for saving our lives.”
“Indian Navy remains committed to Maritime Security in the Indian Ocean Region, in keeping with @PMOIndia’s vision of SAGAR. Indian Naval warships mission deployed in the IOR are ensuring security against all #maritime threats, keeping our seas safe for mariners of all nationalities,” the Indian Navy said in a post on X.
After the rescue, the Indian naval ship undertook confirmatory boarding to sanitise and also to check on the well-being of the crew who were held captive by the Somali pirates. In a total of 36 hours, INS Sumitra rescued two hijacked fishing vessels along with 36 crew, 17 Iranian and 19 Pakistani, in the southern Arabian Sea approximately 850 nm West of Kochi.
Indian naval deployment for anti-piracy operations
India has deployed at least a dozen warships east of the Red Sea to provide security against pirates and has investigated more than 250 vessels as Western powers focus on attacks by Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthis, according to officials. Two warships have been deployed in the Gulf of Aden and 10 warships in the northern and western Arabian Sea.
This is India’s largest deployment in the region. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar recently said India’s growing capability, interests and reputation warranted its help in difficult situations. “We will not be considered a responsible country when bad things are happening in the surrounding country and we say ‘I have got nothing to do with this’,” he said at an event in IIM Mumbai.
Indian military and defence officials said that navy personnel, including special commandos, have investigated more than 250 vessels and small boats in the last two months, boarding more than 40, as piracy returns after a six-year absence in the wake of the Israel-Hamas war. Since November, Yemen-based Houthi rebels have repeatedly targeted ships in the Red Sea over Israel’s offensive against Hamas in Gaza.
Navy rescues Sri Lankan fishing vessel
Meanwhile, the Indian Navy also successfully intercepted and rescued a hijacked Sri Lankan fishing vessel near Mogadishu, Somalia, rescuing six fishermen, it said on Tuesday. The operation was carried out in collaboration with Seychelles Defence Forces and Sri Lanka Navy after a hijacking incident was reported onboard the Sri Lankan flagged multiday fishing trawler Lorenzo Putha 04 on January 27.
The Indian Navy deployed INS Sharada ex Kochi PM 28 Jan and also tasked HALE Sea Guardian to locate and intercept the hijacked fishing vessel. Additionally, efficient operational coordination and Information Sharing through the Sri Lanka and Seychelles International Liaison Officers at IFC IOR, New Delhi, resulted in the interception of the hijacked fishing vessel by SCGS Topaz in Seychelles EEZ on Monday, January 29.
On Friday, Indian Navy’s guided missile destroyer INS Visakhapatnam responded to a distress call from the British oil tanker MV Merlin Luanda after it was struck by a missile launched by the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen and provided immediate assistance to the vessel carrying 22 Indians. According to the Indian Navy, INS Visakhapatnam has deployed the warship’s Nuclear Biological Chemical Defence and Damage Control (NBCD) team along with firefighting equipment to help the crew augment the firefighting efforts onboard the distressed vessel.
(with inputs from agencies)