Navy thwarts pirate attack on two cargo ships


New Delhi : Attacks by Somali pirates on two cargo ships in the Gulf of Aden were thwarted by an Indian Navy warship last week, navy officers said here Monday.

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INS Sukanya, an offshore patrol vessel on anti-piracy duty off the Somali coast, had deployed its marine commandos and a helicopter to ward off the sea brigands, who were approaching the two merchant ships, in separate incidents on Sep 20 and 24.

The pirates were on high-speed skiffs and made threatening approaches towards the merchant ships that were being escorted by INS Sukanya in the Gulf of Aden.

Though it was dark, the Sukanya crew detected the approaching skiffs and following laid-down operating procedure, warned the speed boats on radio to stay clear.

“When the boats did not heed the warnings, Sukanya launched her own high-speed boat with marine commandos to investigate the skiffs. After some time, an armed helicopter was also airborne to protect the vessel in the escort group,” the officers said.

The skiffs were stopped and boarded by the marine commandos, who carried out a search and confirmed the presence of pirates on board.

The commandos also recovered arms and ammunition in the skiffs, apart from implements to mount an attack on unarmed cargo vessels such as modern communication equipment, ropes, ladders and grapnels.

“The skiffs were rendered ineffective for carrying out any further piracy action. Due to the bold and alert actions of Sukanya crew, two merchant vessels — MV Fairchem Bronco and MV Conqueror — were saved from being hijacked,” the officers said.

The Indian Navy has been continuously deploying warships in the Gulf of Aden in anti-piracy role since late October 2008 and has so far prevented hijacking of 39 cargo vessels, apart from escorting 1,700 merchant ships of different nationalities to safe ports.