A maritime crisis unfolded when the cargo ship ‘MV Lila Norfolk,’ carrying 15 Indian crew members, was hijacked in the North Arabian Sea. Responding to this emergency, the Indian Navy dispatched a maritime patrol aircraft and deployed the stealth guided-missile destroyer INS Chennai to the location. The INS Chennai was already engaged in Maritime Security Operations, communication has been established with the crew and confirmed the crew’s safety, as reported by the Indian Navy.
“The INS Chennai diverted from her anti-piracy patrol and intercepted the MV at 1515 hours on 5 January. MV was kept under continuous surveillance using maritime patrol aircraft, Predator MQ9B and integral helos,” according to an official Indian Navy statement.
“Marine commandos present onboard the mission deployed warship boarded the MV and have commenced the sanitisation operation,” it added.
The ship sent a message on the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) portal saying five to six unknown armed personnel had boarded on the evening of 4 January, the Indian navy statement said.
Responding swiftly to the developing situation, the Indian Navy launched an MPA and diverted INS Chennai, deployed for Maritime Security Operations to assist the vessel. The aircraft overflew the vessel on the early morning of 5 January and established contact with the vessel, ascertaining the safety of the crew. Naval aircraft continues to monitor movement, and INS Chennai is closing into the vessel to render assistance. The overall situation is being closely monitored in coordination with other agencies/ MNF in the area, the statement said earlier.
“The Indian Navy remains committed to ensuring the safety of merchant shipping in the region along with international partners and friendly foreign countries,” it added.
In response to a series of recent attacks in the Arabian Sea, the Indian Navy has heightened its monitoring activities in the region. This week, the navy announced an extensive investigation of numerous fishing vessels and the boarding of vessels of interest in the North and Central Arabian Sea. The hijacking, for which no group immediately claimed responsibility, has raised heightened concerns about shipping in the area, particularly in light of attacks by Yemeni Houthi rebels.