INDIAN OCEAN (Nov. 18, 2020) The Indian navy destroyer INS Kolkata steams alongside the guided-missile destroyer USS Sterett (DDG 104) during Malabar 2020. Malabar 2020 is the latest in a continuing series of exercises that has grown in scope and complexity over the years to address the variety of shared threats to maritime security in the Indo-Pacific where the U.S. Navy has patrolled for more than 70 years promoting regional peace and security. Nimitz Carrier Strike Group is currently deployed to the 7th Fleet area of operations in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Drace Wilson)
  • The navy says its commandos boarded the warship to render assistance after the vessel issued a hijacking distress call.

NEW DELHI (Agencies): India’s navy said its commandos have rescued all crew members from a Liberian-flagged merchant vessel after its attempted hijack in the Arabian Sea, and that it had not found any pirates on board.

The subcontinent’s navy said on Friday that 21 crew members, including 15 Indians, were rescued from the MV Lila Norfolk after they intercepted the vessel.

The navy said its forces were carrying out “sanitisation” operations on the ship, less than a day after they received a hijacking distress call from its location off Somalia’s coast in the North Arabian Sea.

The ship had sent a message on the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations portal, saying five to six unknown armed personnel had boarded on Thursday evening, an Indian navy statement said.

The vessel was destined for Khalifa bin Salman in Bahrain, according to British maritime security firm Ambrey. It was not immediately clear what it was carrying.

“The attempt of hijacking by the pirates was probably abandoned with the forceful warning by the Indian Navy, marine patrol aircraft, of interception by an Indian Naval warship,” the navy added.

The warship INS Chennai was diverted and deployed to assist the vessel, the navy said earlier in the day, adding that a naval aircraft overflew the hijacked vessel on Friday and had established contact with it.

The navy said it “remains committed to ensuring [the] safety of merchant shipping in the region along with international partners and friendly foreign countries”.

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