Indian Navy rescues hijacked Iranian fishing vessel, 23 Pakistani crew members

Responding to another piracy incident, the Indian Navy intercepted an Iranian fishing vessel Al-Kambar 786 and rescued the crew comprising 23 Pakistani nationals after a 12-hour operation.

Nine pirates onboard the ship were forced to surrender, the Navy said in a statement.

In another incident earlier this month, on 23 March, 35 pirates were brought back to India and handed over to Mumbai police.

The navy’s patrol vessel INS Sumedha first intercepted the fishing vessel on 29 March and was subsequently joined by the guided missile frigate INS Trishul.

Both these ships were deployed in the Arabian Sea for maritime security operations after intelligence inputs were received on 28 March.

When the vessel came to be hijacked, it was approximately 90 nautical miles south west of Socotra, a Yemeni island in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).

During the operation, the navy carried out “intense coercive tactical measures as per the standard operation procedures (SOPs)”, the navy said.

While SOPs carried out by the Navy are not disclosed, coercive action may mean engaging with the pirates through communication and warning them of further actions that may be taken by the navy if the pirates do not cooperate.

This may or may not involve dropping of naval crew onboard the hijacked vessel using a helicopter.

Indian Navy’s specialist teams have completed sanitisation and seaworthiness checks of fishing vessel Al-Kambar.

The crew were given a thorough medical check-up prior to clearing the boat for carrying out fishing activities.

Notably, the nine pirates will be brought to India for further legal action in accordance with the Maritime Anti-Piracy Act of 2022, the Navy said.

Worth mentioning that the Indian Navy in recent times has responded to several piracy attacks, which have seen a dramatic rise after being completely brought under control by several global navies since 2017.

One such incident with Pakistani crew onboard was responded to by the Indian Navy off the east coast of Somalia in January, when an Iranian-flagged fishing vessel (FV) Iman had been boarded by pirates and the crew, comprising 19 Pakistani nationals, were taken hostage.

There has been a rise in piracy with Houthi rebels targeting and attacking merchant vessels transiting through the Gulf of Aden and Red Sea.

The reason for this is that assets of global navies in the Indian Ocean Region that were dedicated to keep piracy in check have now been diverted towards responding to Houthi attacks.

On 23 March, the Chief of Naval Staff Admiral R. Hari Kumar, during a press conference on 100 days of the ongoing maritime security operations under ‘Op Sankalp’, said that piracy had resurfaced as an industry to gain from the ongoing disorder in the region.

In the 23 March incident, the Indian Navy had returned to Mumbai after apprehending 35 pirates. 17 crew members were rescued.

At the time, the Indian Navy undertook long range deployment and paradrop of the Marine Commandos (MARCOS) over sea in the vicinity of the pirate ship using C17 aircraft with the Indian Air Force (IAF).

The Navy has so far deployed 21 ships for operations along with 5,000 Indian Navy personnel.

Noteworthy, a total of 1,000 boardings and investigations were carried out by the navy.