News Brief

Indian Navy Thwarts Ship Hijacking Attempt In Arabian Sea, Rescues 21 Crew Members Including 15 Indians

Kuldeep Negi

Jan 06, 2024, 10:20 AM | Updated 10:20 AM IST

Pic Via Twitter
Pic Via Twitter

All 21 crew members, including 15 Indians, on board the cargo ship 'MV Lila Norfolk', which was hijacked near the Somali coast on Friday (5 January) evening, were successfully rescued by the Indian Navy.

Following an SOS call from the ship, the Navy promptly dispatched a warship, maritime patrol aircraft, helicopters, and Predator MQ9B drones.

The 84,000-tonne bulk carrier had 21 crew members on board, among them 15 Indians, all of whom are now confirmed safe.

The ship's emergency message indicated that it had been boarded by around five or six unidentified individuals armed with weapons.

The Indian Navy dispatched its elite MARCOS commandos to execute a search and rescue operation on board the ship. Following a thorough sweep of the entire vessel, the commandos were able to confirm that there were no hijackers present on the ship.

The attempt of hijacking by the pirates was probably abandoned with the prompt response and forceful warning, the Indian Navy said in a statement.

The Navy disseminated videos of the intense maritime operation on X, previously known as Twitter. The footage displays commandos boarding the vessel and executing their mission.

Steve Kunzer, the CEO of Lila Global, the Dubai-based owners of the vessel, expressed his gratitude to the Indian Navy for the rescue.

"We also want to thank the professionalism of our crew who reacted safely and responsibly under the circumstances," he said in a statement.

The recent hijacking attempt comes amid escalating worries about Houthi militants intensifying their assaults on commercial ships in the Red Sea, concurrent with the Israel-Hamas conflict.

Admiral R Hari Kumar, the Navy Chief, has given directives to handle such maritime occurrences decisively.

The MV Chem Pluto, a vessel flying the Liberian flag and manned by 21 Indian crew members, was subjected to a drone attack off the western coast of India on 23 December.

In addition to MV Chem Pluto, a different commercial oil tanker en route to India was also targeted by a suspected drone strike in the Southern Red Sea on the same day. This ship was manned by a team of 25 Indian crew members.

In a separate event, the Malta-registered ship, MV Ruen, was hijacked by pirates on 14 December.

Kuldeep is Senior Editor (Newsroom) at Swarajya. He tweets at @kaydnegi.

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