Indian Navy Repels 3 Somali Pirate Hijackings

January 30, 2024 12:55 PM
Iranian-flagged fishing vessel Al Naeemi was seized by Somali pirates that was rescued by Indian Navy frigate INS Sumitra on Jan. 28, 2024. Indian Navy Photo

The Indian Navy thwarted three hijackings by Somalian pirates in a two-day period from Sunday to Monday, with one warship rescuing separately two hijacked ships off the east coast of Somalia, while a second ship participated in a multinational operation with Sri Lanka and the Seychelles to rescue a hijacked ship, according to releases by the service.

On Tuesday, the service issued a release stating that offshore patrol vessel INS Sumitra (P59), which had been deployed for antipiracy and maritime security operations east of Somalia and the Gulf of Aden, responded on Sunday evening to a distress message on the hijacking of an Iranian-flagged fishing vessel, FV Iman. Sumitra had intercepted the hijacked ship and, following standard operational procedures (SOPs) and “coercive posturing,” Iman and her crew of 17 Iranian nationals were rescued in the early hours of Monday. “FV Iman was sanitised and released for onward transit,” stated the release.

Sumitra was called into action again, according to the release, to locate and intercept another Iranian-flagged fishing vessel, FV Al Naeemi, which had been boarded by pirates. Sumitra intercepted the hijacked ship on Monday evening and, through coercive posturing and effective deployment of her helicopter and boats, compelled the safe release of the crew and the fishing vessel. The Indian warship also undertook confirmatory boarding to sanitise and check the well-being of the crew who had been held captive, according to the release.

“The Indian Navy has once again proved its commitment in the region to act against all maritime threats in order to ensure safety of all mariners and vessels at sea” concluded the release.

The release made no mention of the number of pirates involved, though a photo released by the Indian Navy showed Indian Marine Commandos guarding nine pirates on board one of the hijacked ships.

The Indian Navy’s official spokesperson stated in a social media post on X that the service carried out a multinational response with the Sri Lanka Navy and Seychelles Defence Force when Sri Lankan flagged fishing trawler Lorenzo Putha (04) was hijacked by three pirates in a location 593 miles east of Mogadishu, Somalia. The Indian Navy deployed offshore patrol vessel INS Sharda (P55) and MQ-9B Sea Guardian drones to locate and intercept the hijacked ship, according to the post. Since 2020, the Indian Navy currently operates two Sea Guardians on an annual lease from manufacturer General Atomics for surveillance over the Indian Ocean. India is currently negotiating a deal with the U.S. for the acquisition of 31 MQ-9Bs, with the navy getting 15 Sea Guardians while the army and air force each getting 8 Sky Guardians. New Delhi and Washington plan to sign the contract by March this year.

In addition, operational coordination and information sharing among the Sri Lanka and Seychelles international liaison officers at the Information Fusion Centre–Indian Ocean Region, New Delhi, resulted in the interception of the hijacked fishing vessel by Seychelles Coast Guard patrol craft PS Topaz (606) in the Seychelles exclusive economic zone on Monday. “The pirates surrendered to the Seychelles Coast Guard (SCG) and all six crew members are safe and vessel escorted to Mahe, Seychelles,” concluded the Indian Navy Spokesperson’s post.

The Indian Navy has been heavily active in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden because of piracy and missile attacks on merchant shipping there. New Delhi vowed to punish those responsible for two attacks in December on predominantly Indian crewed merchant ships and earlier this month rescued a hijacked ship in the Arabian Sea. On Friday, destroyer INS Visakhapatnam (D66), together with U.S. Navy destroyer USS Carney (DDG-64) and French Navy Frigate FS Alsace (D656), helped extinguish the fire that broke out after a Houthi missile hit the cargo ship M/V Marlin Luanda.

Dzirhan Mahadzir

Dzirhan Mahadzir

Dzirhan Mahadzir is a freelance defense journalist and analyst based in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia. Among the publications he has written for and currently writes for since 1998 includes Defence Review Asia, Jane’s Defence Weekly, Navy International, International Defence Review, Asian Defence Journal, Defence Helicopter, Asian Military Review and the Asia-Pacific Defence Reporter.

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