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U.S. vessel entry illegal, says police official

Tamil Nadu Bureau
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“No diplomatic pressure on the State Government in the case”

The U.S- based vessel ‘Seaman Guard Ohio’ at Tuticorin Port.— Photo: PTI
The U.S- based vessel ‘Seaman Guard Ohio’ at Tuticorin Port.— Photo: PTI

‘Seaman Guard Ohio,’ the U.S. vessel detained by coastal security agencies off the Tuticorin coast last Friday, had no authority to enter Indian waters, a senior police official said on Thursday.

Since the ship was registered in Sierra Leone, a letter of authorisation issued by that country was essential for the crew to enter Indian waters. “Even if the firearms had US licence, there needs to be some authority to enter a country. So far they have not produced any such document,” the official who preferred not to be quoted said.

Meanwhile the investigation by the Tamil Nadu ‘Q’ Branch police continued for the second consecutive day in Tuticorin, reliable sources said on Thursday.

The ‘Q’ Branch Superintendent of Police, Bhavani Ishwari, who inspected the vessel with a crew and armed guards on Wednesday, was inquiring with the crew captain and guardsmen on this ongoing issue, which poses a threat to national security.

After assembling here, many government agencies were making a thorough probe into the incident.

Information on the detention of the vessel was not shared with the Mercantile Marine Department, which comes under the Directorate General of Shipping, sources said.

There were many speculations about the crew on board the vessel that docked at Cochin Port in August.

The vessel was spotted at 10.48 nautical miles off the nearest seaport in India which was very much within the territorial waters “where the law of the land prevails.”

Though a case under various Sections of the Arms Act, Essential Commodities Act and others was registered, arrest of foreign nationals involved compliance of certain procedures, an official said.

Denying that there was any diplomatic pressure on the State Government in the case, the official said the police were perusing navigational equipment of the vessel.


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