The Indian Navy has successfully rescued a ship hijacked by Somali pirates in the North Arabian Sea on Thursday, in a daring operation that showcased its naval prowess and regional influence.
The ship, MV Lila Norfolk, was carrying 21 crew members, 15 of whom were Indian nationals, when it was seized by five to six armed pirates east of the Somali port town of Eyl. The crew members managed to send a distress signal to a UK marine agency, which alerted the Indian Navy.
The Indian Navy dispatched an patrol aircraft to establish contact with the hijacked ship, followed by the Kolkata-class guided-missile destroyer INS Chennai, which reached the vicinity of the ship on Friday morning. The navy issued a warning to the pirates to surrender, but received no response.
The navy then launched a team of marine commandos, who boarded the ship and secured the citadel, the vessel’s fortified area where the crew members had taken refuge. The commandos evacuated all the crew members safely and searched the ship for the pirates, but found none. It is unclear whether the pirates had fled or were hiding elsewhere on the ship.
The navy statement said that the ship and the crew were now under its protection and would be escorted to a safe port. The statement also praised the bravery and professionalism of the commandos and the crew members, who had endured a harrowing ordeal.
The rescue operation was hailed as a major achievement for the Indian Navy, which has been actively involved in anti-piracy operations in the region since 2008. The navy has also been expanding its presence and cooperation with African countries, as part of India’s strategic and economic interests.
The navy has deployed one of its most advanced warships, Sumedha, in Madagascar, as part of its ongoing outreach programme in Africa. The navy has also strengthened its military ties with Mozambique, Namibia, and Mauritius, among other nations, in recent months.
The hijacking of MV Lila Norfolk was the latest in a series of attacks on vessels off Somalia’s coast, which have raised concerns that piracy could be making a comeback in the area. The attacks are believed to be linked to the relocation of navy ships from the US and other countries from the Indian Ocean to the Red Sea, to safeguard shipping from Houthi rebels based in Yemen.
The Indian Navy has vowed to continue its vigilance and assistance in ensuring the safety and security of the maritime domain in the region.