During INS Kolkata’s tactical operation conducted on March 16, 2024, 35 pirates surrendered and 17 crew members were safely evacuated. (Photo posted on X by @indiannavy)

Indian Navy warship INS Kolkata on Saturday evening successfully “cornered and coerced” all the 35 Somali pirates onboard the hijacked merchant vessel, MV Ruen, to surrender and ensured the safe evacuation of the 17 crew members without any injury, the spokesperson for the navy said on social media platform X.

INS Kolkata’s operations against the pirates lasted for about 40 hours, according to the official’s post.

INS Kolkata had carried out the interception of the pirate ship, formerly the MV Ruen, almost 2,600 km from the Indian coast and forced the ship to stop, with the help of INS Subhadra, at least one unmanned aerial vehicle, P-8I maritime patrol aircraft, and marine commandos air-dropped by C-17 aircraft.

The vessel has been sanitised for the presence of illegal arms, ammunition, and contraband, added the navy spokesperson. 

The Navy had intercepted the pirate-controlled ex-MV Ruen vessel on March 15, Friday. It was hijacked by Somali pirates on December 14, 2023. There are at least 15-plus crew on the vessel from Bulgaria, Angola, and Myanmar, Navy officials said.

On being intercepted, the pirates opened fire on the Indian warship, which is taking appropriate action as per international law to counter piracy. Operation by the commandos was on by the time of filing of this report.

“The ex-MV Ruen, which had been hijacked by Somali pirates on December 14, was reported to have sailed out as a pirate ship towards conducting acts of piracy on the high seas,” the Navy said.

“The pirates on-board the vessel have been called upon to surrender and release the vessel and any civilians they may be holding against their will,” the Navy had said in a statement.

In the last few weeks, the Indian Navy has extended assistance to a number of merchant vessels in the Western Indian Ocean following attacks on them.

The Indian Navy, earlier this month, foiled a piracy attempt on an Iranian-flagged fishing vessel having a crew of 11 Iranian and eight Pakistani nationals along the east coast of Somalia.

In January, Indian warship INS Sumitra rescued 19 Pakistani crew of an Iranian-flagged fishing vessel after it was attacked by pirates off the east coast of Somalia.

The Navy on January 5 thwarted an attempted hijacking of the Liberian-flagged vessel MV Lila Norfolk in the North Arabian Sea and rescued all its crew members.

Liberian-flagged vessel MV Chem Pluto, with 21 Indian crew members, was the target of a drone attack off India’s west coast on December 23.

The Navy has already enhanced the deployment of its frontline ships and surveillance aircraft for maritime security operations in view of the maritime environment in the critical sea lanes, including in the North and Central Arabian Sea.

(With agency input) 

First Published: Mar 16 2024 | 8:00 PM IST

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