Navy secures release of fishing vessel with crew of 11 Iranians, 8 Pakistanis

FV Omaril, an Iranian-flagged Vessel, had been boarded by seven pirates who had taken the crew as hostages, the Indian Navy said.

Updated - February 02, 2024 10:21 pm IST

Published - February 02, 2024 06:19 pm IST - New Delhi

Navy personnel foiled yet another piracy attempt on a Iranian-flagged fishing vessel Omaril off Somalia, on February 2, 2024. Photo: Indian Navy

Navy personnel foiled yet another piracy attempt on a Iranian-flagged fishing vessel Omaril off Somalia, on February 2, 2024. Photo: Indian Navy

The Indian Navy foiled a piracy attempt on an Iranian-flagged fishing vessel, FV Omaril, off the east coast of Somalia on February 2 and ensured the release of the crew — 11 Iranian and eight Pakistani nationals — along with the boat.

“Information regarding piracy attempt on fishing vessel FV Omaril was monitored on January 31. The Indian naval remotely piloted aircraft (RPA), undertaking surveillance in the area, successfully located FV Omaril, and INS Sharda, deployed for anti-piracy mission in the region, was diverted to intercept the boat,” the Navy said in a statement on Friday.

Seven pirates had boarded FV Omaril and taken the crew hostages, according to the Navy. “INS Sharda intercepted the vessel in early hours of February 2 and used her integral helicopter and boats to coerce the pirates for safe release of crew along with the vessel,” it said.

The ship also undertook “confirmatory boarding” on the vessel to sanitise and check on the well-being of the crew who had been held captive by the Somali pirates, the Navy added.

Navy proactively engaging to promote maritime security

Seven incidents of hijacking of vessels on high seas by pirates have been reported during the last three years and Indian Navy has been proactively engaging with the regional and extra-regional navies and maritime forces, to promote maritime security, Minister of State for defence Ajay Bhatt said informed the Parliament on February 2. This does not include the latest incident.

“For restoring maritime security in the region, enhanced presence of ships, aerial surveillance by maritime patrol aircraft, RPA in the Central Arabian Sea and Off East of Coast of Somalia is being undertaken by Indian Navy. Information is also exchanged with national and international maritime security agencies for early response in a coordinated manner, effective liaison and coordination with Director General (Shipping) for inputs on Indian crew onboard Merchant vessels plying in Arabian Sea and Gulf of Aden/adjoining region,” Mr. Bhatt said in a written reply in the Lok Sabha to a question from MP A. Ganeshamurthi. “In addition, interrogation of fishing vessels/ dhows operating in the region is also being undertaken by Indian Navy for maintaining maritime security in the region.”

Due to the ongoing maritime security situation in the region, Indian Navy units are being deployed off Djibouti/ Gulf of Aden, in the North and Central Arabian Sea, off East Coast of Somalia for protection of merchant vessels and rendering assistance, if required, Mr. Bhatt said in a written reply to Kunwar Pushpendra Singh Chandel.

Since 2008, Indian Navy has deployed units in Gulf of Aden and East Coast of Africa towards anti-piracy patrols. A total of 3,440 ships and over 25,000 seafarers have been safely escorted, the reply stated.

Listing the most recent hijacking incidents, the first reply stated that one hijacking incident of Merchant Vessel – Lila Norfolk on January 04-05, 2024 which had 21 crew including 15 Indian nationals onboard. Further, two hijacking incidents occurred involving fishing vessel – Iman on January 28, 2024 and fishing vessel – Al Naeemi on January 29, 2024 which did not have any Indian crew onboard. Nil piracy incidents have been reported in Palk Strait, the reply added.

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