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Indian Navy destroys pirate ship in Gulf of Aden

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IN THE DOCK: Eight Somali pirates, arrested by British Royal Marine commandos of HMS Cumberland last week, were handed over to the Kenyan police on Tuesday. They were arrested as they tried to hijack a cargo ship in the Gulf of Aden. The picture shows the detenus at the Kenya Ports Authority police station in Mombasa.
IN THE DOCK: Eight Somali pirates, arrested by British Royal Marine commandos of HMS Cumberland last week, were handed over to the Kenyan police on Tuesday. They were arrested as they tried to hijack a cargo ship in the Gulf of Aden. The picture shows the detenus at the Kenya Ports Authority police station in Mombasa.

Atul Aneja

The ship threatened to blow up INS Tabar when asked to stop for investigation

DUBAI: The Indian Navy destroyed a “mother vessel” engaged in piracy in the Gulf of Aden a day after pirates forced a hijacked oil supertanker to enter Somalia’s perilous waters.

The incident took place 285 nautical miles (528 km) southwest of Oman’s port of Salalah on Tuesday.

According to the Navy, its warship INS Tabar spotted a ship which was similar to one of the vessels that was suspected of coordinating piracy in the Gulf of Aden.

Two speedboats were accompanying the “mother vessel.” The ship threatened to blow up Tabar when it was asked to stop for investigation. Armed with guns and rocket propelled grenades, the pirates were seen roaming on the upper deck of their ship. The Navy said Tabar retaliated when the other ship opened fire. Consequently, the vessel caught fire. Loud explosions could be heard, possibly because ammunition stored in the ship went off.

In its statement, the Navy added: “Almost simultaneously, the two speedboats were observed breaking off to escape. The ship chased the first boat, which was later found abandoned. The other boat made good its escape into darkness."

This is the second major occasion when the Navy encountered pirates in the Gulf of Aden. It prevented the hijacking of the Indian merchant ship, Jag Arnav, and a Saudi vessel on November 11.

Diplomatic sources said Tuesday’s incident in the Gulf of Aden highlighted the Navy’s capability in the high seas, as seen earlier in the conduct of tsunami relief operations and during the Lebanon war of July-August 2006.

However, the Navy was facing four major hurdles in the conduct of its on-going anti-piracy operations, the sources said. First, more ships were required as a single ship, at any point of time, could scan for pirates only in a limited area of 20-30 nautical miles. Second, while Tabar was fuelling from its base in Salalah, a more elaborate logistics arrangement was necessary, with Yemen and Djibouti as other possible options. “We also need to work out an arrangement with Somalia’s U.N. recognised transitional government that would legalise the entry of Indian warships seeking pirates in Somalia’s territorial waters,” the sources observed. Besides, with more than 100,000 square miles to cover, coordination with other navies in the area “purely on an anti-piracy platform” was required, they said.

Pressure was also mounting on other navies operating in the area to destroy “mother ships” operated by pirates.

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