Indian Navy commandos seize hijacked vessel in Arabian Sea

In a swift operation, Indian Navy commandos have seized control of a Liberian-flagged hijacked vessel navigating the Arabian Sea, marking a critical response to escalating piracy concerns.

Indian navy commandos

Indian Navy commandos have taken control of a hijacked Liberian-flagged vessel in the Arabian Sea, commencing sanitization operations, the navy disclosed on Friday without providing extensive details.

The interception of the MV Lila Norfolk by an Indian Navy warship occurred on Friday afternoon, following reports of its hijacking off the coast of Somalia in the North Arabian Sea just a day prior.

The UK Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) agency’s latest update confirmed the absence of unauthorized individuals on board the vessel, ensuring the safety and accounting of all crew members. The vessel is reported to be departing the area.

With 15 Indian crew members on board, the vessel was hijacked near Somalia’s coast, and the Indian news agency ANI, with Reuters having a minority stake, reported receiving information about the incident on Thursday evening from military officials.

The INS Chennai warship was redirected and deployed for assistance, as announced by the navy earlier in the day. A naval aircraft made contact with the hijacked vessel on Friday.

Enhanced surveillance of the Arabian Sea has been initiated by the Indian navy in response to recent regional attacks. Activities included investigations into numerous fishing vessels and boarding of vessels of interest within the region, as stated earlier this week.

The resurgence of commercial ship hijackings and attempted hijackings in the Gulf of Aden and Arabian Sea regions resumed in December after a six-year hiatus. Analysts attribute this to the redirection of anti-piracy naval forces led by the U.S. toward the Red Sea to counter Houthi attacks.

According to data from the Indian Navy’s Information Fusion Centre – Indian Ocean Region, December saw at least three hijackings, marking the first incidents since 2017.

Abhijit Singh, head of the Maritime Policy Initiative at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi, attributed the resurgence to pirates capitalizing on the reduced focus of anti-piracy efforts in the Gulf of Aden.

The Indian navy reiterated its increased vigilance in the North and Central Arabian Sea, affirming India’s commitment as a security provider in the Indian Ocean region.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh highlighted India’s dedication to safeguarding maritime trade in the region. However, India remains uninvolved in the U.S.-led Red Sea task force.

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