Indian Navy apprehends 35 pirates off Somalia coast, handed over to Mumbai police

INS Kolkata nabbed pirates in an operation that lasted over 40 hours

Indian Navy Representational image

Warship INS Kolkata, carrying 35 pirates who were apprehended in an operation off the coast of Somalia, reached Mumbai on Saturday morning, the Navy said. These pirates were then handed over to the Mumbai police, it said.

The exercise was undertaken as part of the ongoing Operation Sankalp, wherein Indian Navy ships are deployed in the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Aden for the safety of seafarers and mercantile trade passing through the region. "INS Kolkata, with the 35 apprehended pirates, returned to Mumbai on March 23 and handed over the pirates to the local police for further legal action in accordance with Indian laws, specifically the Maritime Anti Piracy Act 2022," the Navy said.

In an operation lasting over 40 hours that commenced in the early hours of March 15, INS Kolkata intercepted Pirate Ship ex-MV Ruen in the Arabian Sea based on inputs received by Indian Navy's Information Fusion Centre -Indian Ocean Region from UKMTO (United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations). “The ship was being used as a Mother Ship for undertaking piracy attacks and hijacking of merchantmen,” it said. “INS Kolkata started shadowing the Pirate Ship in the early hours of March 15. The vessel, upon sighting INS Kolkata, reversed course and started heading towards the Somali Coast. Several armed pirates were observed on the upper deck of the ship,” the Navy said.

INS Kolkata directed the pirate ship to stop for investigation in accordance with International Law, especially the United Nations Conventions on the Laws of the Sea (UNCLOS). However, the pirate ship refused to comply and instead opened fire. "INS Kolkata thereafter acted in self-defence and used kinetic measures required to disable the ship and compel the pirates to surrender," it said. INS Subhadra joined INS Kolkata in the operation. Further, the Indian Navy undertook long-range deployment and paradrop of Marine Commandos over the sea in the vicinity of the pirate ship using C17s in coordination with the Indian Air Force.

Aerial surveillance for the operation was undertaken by Indian Navy P8I aircraft, Sea Guardian UAV, and the ship's integral helicopters and spotter drones. "In the face of decisive action by the Indian Navy, all pirates onboard surrendered. The 35 pirates and 17 crew members were duly taken into custody and shifted to Indian Naval ships," it said. The Indian Navy searched and sanitised the ship with respect to arms, ammunition and contraband, rendering it safe. In addition, assessment of seaworthiness and essential repairs were undertaken by the naval technical team, to make the ship fit for further voyage.


Join our WhatsApp Channel to get the latest news, exclusives and videos on WhatsApp