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Indian Navy counters Malta ship hijacked by Somalian pirates

The Indian Navy has responded to a hijacking situation on the Arabian Sea of a commercial Matla ship which was boarded by approximately six unknown personnel on December 14 by deploying a patrol warship and aircraft. After the MV Ruen, a ship flying the flag of Malta, was hijacked in the Arabian Sea, the Indian Navy reacted quickly, diverting its naval patrol planes and a cruiser to help the platform that was being pushed near the coast of Somalia on December 16, 2023.

With its prompt action, the Indian Navy again demonstrated its capability to act as a net security provider in the region. Indian Navy also reiterated its commitment to be first responder in the region and ensure the safety of merchant shipping playing active role with international partners and friendly foreign countries.

Navy sources said that no Indians were present on the MV Ruen, which has 18 crew on board. The Indian Navy’s warship on an anti-piracy patrol in Gulf Aden received a Mayday message on the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operation (UKMTO) portal on December 14, indicating that about six unknown pirates had illegally boarded the Malta-flagged vessel, managed by Bulgaria’s Navigation Maritime Bulgare.

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The Indian Navy swiftly responded to the escalating situation by mobilizing its aircraft, which conducted an overflight of the stolen vessel in the early hours of Thursday, December 15. Continuously monitoring the vessel’s trajectory, it was noted that the MV Ruen is currently navigating towards the coast of Somalia. Subsequently, an interception occurred on early Saturday morning. However, according to Navy sources, a decision has been made to withhold further action until the situation stabilizes and clarifies itself.

The ship, MV Reun, was heading towards Somalia when it was attacked on Thursday. UK’s Marine Trade Operations said that the crew has lost control of the vessel. The capture of the vessel appears to be the first major attack by Somali pirates since 2017, following counter-piracy efforts by several countries stopped such seizures in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean.

The UK Marine body has advised ships to remain on alert while travelling in the Arabian Sea near Somalia as a piracy action group is active in the area. The warning stated, “Vessels are advised to transit with caution and report any suspicious activity.”

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The attack has highlighted a major lapse in the ongoing anti-piracy efforts in the Arabian Sea. The Indian Navy is now on high alert in the region. Meanwhile, it has also advised ships to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity.

In Somalia’s breakaway Puntland region, a member of a group that helped organise raids on ships in the past told Reuters he had heard pirates had managed to seize a vessel. “Six of my pirate friends managed to capture a ship and they will bring it to the coast of the eastern region of Puntland,” Mukhtar Mohamud said by phone from the coastal city of Qandala.

The synchronized efforts of the warship and aircraft played a crucial role in addressing this high-stakes situation, showcasing the Indian Navy’s commitment to maritime security and response capabilities.

Sources : Times of India, Inda Today, Indian Express

By Soujanya Das Roy

From Kolkata

Reporting for True To Life

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