Indian Navy ship repulses pirate attack off Somalia


New Delhi : An Indian Navy ship successfully repulsed a pirate attack and fired at their ‘mother vessel’ in the dangerous waters of the Gulf of Aden near Somalia, an official here said Wednesday, even as the world’s largest supertanker Sirius Star remained hijacked by Somali sea bandits.

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The stealth frigate INS Tabar, which is currently in the pirate-infested Gulf of Aden for Anti-Piracy Surveillance and Patrol Operations, was fired at by pirates on board a ship suspected to be the ‘mother vessel’ late Tuesday.

“INS Tabar encountered a pirate vessel in south west of Oman with two speedboats in tow. This vessel was similar in description to the ‘mother vessel’ mentioned in various piracy bulletins. INS Tabar closed in on the vessel and asked her to stop for investigation,” Indian Navy spokesperson Neerad Sinha said.

Following repeated calls, the vessel threatened to blow up the INS Tabar if it closed in.

“Pirates were seen roaming on the upper deck of the vessel with guns and rocket propelled grenade launchers. The vessel continued threatening calls and subsequently fired upon INS Tabar.

“On being fired upon, INS Tabar retaliated in self defence and opened fire on the mother vessel. As a result, fire broke out on the pirate vessel and explosions were heard, possibly due to exploding ammunition that was stored on the vessel,” Sinha said.

Amidst all the action, two speedboats broke off to escape.

“INS Tabar chased the first boat which was later found abandoned. The other boat made good its escape into darkness,” Sinha added.

The INS Tabar had last week in a daring rescue mission foiled an attempt by pirates to hijack two ships – one Indian and a Saudi Arabian merchant vessel.

An Indian Naval helicopter with marine commandoes had reached the spot immediately after receiving an SOS. The rescuers noticed at least four or five high-speed attack boats with around five-armed pirates each who were attempting to capture the Indian ship and the Saudi vessel.

INS Tabar has been patrolling the Gulf of Aden since Nov 2. During this period, she has successfully escorted approximately 35 ships, including a number of foreign flagged vessels, safely during their transit through pirate-infested waters of the Gulf of Aden.

Sirius Star, which was sailing under a Liberian flag, had been seized Saturday by Somali pirates. It is 330 metres long and can carry up to two million barrels of oil.

The latest incident comes a few days after the Japanese merchant vessel Mt Stolt Valor was released Sunday. It had been hijacked by Somalian pirates Sep 15 and had 22 crewmembers on board including 18 Indians.