Indian Navy responds to hijacking in Arabian Sea

Photo: Indian Navy

The Indian Navy has deployed a warship and aerial assets in response to a hijacking incident that occurred on a foreign-flagged commercial vessel in the northern Arabian Sea late last week.

The Liberian-registered bulk carrier Lila Norfolk was underway some 460 nautical miles off the coast of Somalia and en route to Bahrain when it was boarded by five armed individuals on the evening (local time) of Thursday, January 4.

The crew then alerted personnel at UK Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) about the unauthorised boarding. The information was subsequently relayed to the Indian Navy, which deployed the guided-missile destroyer INS Chennai, a P-8I Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles, and Chennai‘s embarked helicopters to monitor the movement of the hijacked vessel.

On Friday, January 5, personnel on the patrol aircraft established contact with the vessel and issued a “forceful warning” to the perpetrators while a team of the navy’s Marine Commandos (MARCOS) special operations force came on board to liberate the crew, who had locked themselves up in the citadel.

The MARCOS team safely evacuated the 21-strong crew, which consisted of 15 Indian and six Filipino nationals. However, according to the UKMTO, the commandos found no unauthorised personnel on board.

A navy spokesperson said the perpetrators may have abandoned the vessel shortly after the warning was broadcast.

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