Dramatic Ops In High Seas: Indian Navy Rescues ‘Hijacked’ MV Ruen Crew, Arrests 35 Pirates

New Delhi: In a decisive military operation involving an Indian warship and marine commandos, an attempt by 35 Somali pirates to utilise a hijacked merchant vessel as a “mother ship” for launching attacks on other commercial ships on the high seas was thwarted, with some firing occurring during the intervention.

Indian Navy warship INS Kolkata successfully “cornered and coerced” all the 35 Somali pirates onboard the hijacked merchant vessel, MV Ruen, to surrender on Saturday evening. The 17 crew members of the Malta-flagged bulk carrier MV Ruen, which had been hijacked in December, were also safely evacuated without injuries, the spokesperson for the navy said on social media platform X.

The operation, conducted by guided-missile destroyer INS Kolkata and her marine commandos, took place approximately 2,600 km from the Indian coast. The destroyer was backed by patrol vessel INS Subhadra, P-8I long-range maritime patrol aircraft, high-altitude long-endurance drones and additional marine commandos air-dropped by C-17 aircraft of the IAF in the major operation east of the Somalia coast in the 40-hour standoff.

Commandeered by the Somali pirates after the hijacking on December 14, MV Ruen had sailed out of Somalian waters to act as a “mother ship” for piracy attacks in the region. “The vessel was intercepted by INS Kolkata on Friday. Some of the pirates opened fire on the warship, which took actions as per the international law, in self-defence and to counter piracy, with minimal force necessary to neutralise the pirates’ threat to shipping and seafarers,” an officer said.

The warship called upon the pirates to surrender, release the vessel and the crew from Bulgaria, Angola and Myanmar who were being held hostage. The Navy had the permission to take action against them had they not surrendered.

“The vessel has been sanitised to check for the presence of illegal arms, ammunition and contraband,” an officer said.

In past occurrences, owners of hijacked commercial ships have been reported to negotiate and pay ransoms to secure the release of their vessels and crews from Somali pirates. In recent incidents, pirates who lacked direct control over the crews of hijacked vessels have been observed fleeing on skiffs upon confrontation by Indian warships and aircraft.

“If the pirates are apprehended, they are usually disarmed and set adrift on their boats to ensure they can pose no threat to other vessels in the area,” another officer said.

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

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