After 40-hour operation, Navy rescues crew of hijacked ship & captures 35 pirates

NEW DELHI: In a direct military intervention that saw even some firing take place, an Indian warship and marine commandos on Saturday thwarted the attempt by a group of 35 Somali pirates to use a hijacked merchant vessel as “a mother ship” for launching attacks on other commercial ships on the high seas.
The 17 crew members of the merchant vessel, Malta-flagged bulk carrier MV Ruen that was hijacked in December, were safely evacuated without injuries and the 35 pirates apprehended in the operation conducted by guided-missile destroyer INS Kolkata with her marine commandos around 2,600 km from the Indian coast on Saturday evening.
The destroyer was backed by patrol vessel INS Subhadra, P-8I long-range maritime patrol aircraft, high-altitude long-endurance drones and additional marine commandos air-dropped by C-17 aircraft of the IAF in the major operation east of the Somalia coast. “The vessel has also been sanitised to check for the presence of illegal arms, ammunition and contraband,” an officer said.
Commandeered by the Somali pirates after the hijacking on December 14, MV Ruen had sailed out of Somalian waters to act as a “mother ship” for piracy attacks in the region.
“The vessel was intercepted by INS Kolkata on Friday. Some of the pirates opened fire on the warship, which took actions as per the international law, in self-defence and to counter piracy, with minimal force necessary to neutralise the pirates’ threat to shipping and seafarers,” the officer said.
The warship called upon the pirates to surrender, release the vessel and the crew from Bulgaria, Angola and Myanmar who were being held hostage. “INS Kolkata, through concerted actions successfully cornered and coerced all 35 Pirates to surrender and ensured safe evacuation of the 17 crew members. If the pirates did not surrender, the Navy has given permission to the marine commandos to take action against them,” he added.
Owners of hijacked commercial ships have been known to pay ransoms to get their vessels and crews back from the Somali pirates. In some of the recent incidents, pirates who did not have the crews of hijacked vessels under their direct control had fled on skiffs after being confronted by Indian warships and aircraft.
“If the pirates are apprehended, they are usually disarmed and set adrift on their boats to ensure they can pose no threat to other vessels in the area,” another officer said.

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