Averting a tragedy on the high seas, the Navies of India and China jointly swung into action in response to a distress call from a hijacked bulk cargo carrier in the Gulf of Aden on Sunday.
The 178m-long bulk carrier, OS 35, bearing the flag of Tuvalu was attacked by pirates on Saturday night while it was heading from Port Kelang to Aden Port.
Indian Navy ships Mumbai, Tarkash, Trishul and Aditya proceeding on deployment to the Mediterranean and passing through the Gulf of Aden, responded to the call and rapidly closed the merchant vessel by the early hours on Sunday, a Navy officer said.
The pirates had fled
The crew had locked themselves in a strong room on board, as per standard operating procedure while an Indian Navy helicopter carried out an aerial reconnaissance to spot the pirates. However, it was ascertained that pirates fled in ship at night. Following this, a Chinese team from Peoples Liberation Army Navy ship Yulin boarded the ship.
“We provided air cover while PLA sent a team of 18 to sanitise the merchant ship. Communication link was provided by the Indian Navy. It has been established that all 19 Filipino crewmembers are safe,” a senior officer said.
The officer added that the Master of ship has thanked the Indian navy and the two Navies also thanked each other for the excellent coordination.
Since 2008, India has been maintained continuous naval presence in the piracy-infested Gulf of Aden through which a major chunk of the global commerce passes.