WATCH | Moment When Navy Commandos Board ‘Hijacked’ Ship in Arabian Sea, Rescue 15 Indian Crew


MV Lila Norfolk, a cargo ship, which was hijacked near Somalia's coast in the Arabian Sea. (Image: PTI)

MV Lila Norfolk, a cargo ship, which was hijacked near Somalia’s coast in the Arabian Sea. (Image: PTI)

The mission-deployed INS Chennai intercepted the vessel in the afternoon while a boat carrying the commandoes reached the target. The maritime patrol aircraft P-8I, helicopters and MQ9B Predator drones assisted the ship

The Indian Navy elite marine commandos rescued all the 21 crew members, including 15 Indians, of a Liberian-flagged merchant vessel that faced a hijacking attempt by five to six armed personnel near the coast of Somalia in the Arabian Sea on Friday. The commandoes, known as MARCOs, boarded the MV Lila Norfolk and conducted a swift sanitisation operation inside the vessel.

The mission-deployed INS Chennai intercepted the vessel in the afternoon while a boat carrying the commandoes reached the target. All this while, maritime patrol aircraft P-8I, helicopters and MQ9B Predator drones assisted the ship.

The cargo vessel belonged to Lila Global and the company’s CEO Steve Kunzer said the crew of Lila Norfolk have been successfully rescued by the Indian Navy ship INS Chennai. “The vessel and crew are all safe. We want to thank the agencies that assisted in their rescue, in particular the Indian Navy, Capt Rohit Bajpai, Director IFC-IOR and the officials of DG Shipping,” he said in a statement.

He added: “We also want to thank the professionalism of our crew who reacted safely and responsibly under the circumstances.”

Here is all you need to know about how the action unfolded:

  1. The MV Lila Norfolk sent a message on the UK Maritime Trade Operations portal, saying unknown armed personnel had boarded it late on Thursday (January 4). All the crew members were hiding in a safe room on the vessel since last evening when the pirates boarded the cargo ship.
  2. Indian Navy spokesperson Commander Vivek Madhwal said frontline warship INS Chennai intercepted the cargo vessel at 3.15 pm and that MARCOs commandos “sanitised” it. “All 21 crew, including 15 Indians, onboard the vessel were safely evacuated from the citadel,” Madhwal said. “Sanitisation by MARCOs commandos has confirmed the absence of the hijackers. The attempt of hijacking by the pirates was probably abandoned with the forceful warning by Indian Navy’s maritime patrol aircraft of interception by naval warship,” he said.
  3. The official said INS Chennai is now in the vicinity of MV Lila Norfolk and rendering support to restore the power generation and propulsion in the vessel besides assisting her commence voyage to the next port of call. The warship was diverted from her anti-piracy patrol to assist the vessel.
  4. The vessel was kept under continuous surveillance using maritime patrol aircraft P8I and Predator MQ9B drones before the commandos entered it. “The Indian Navy’s marine commandos present onboard the mission-deployed warship boarded the merchant vessel and have carried out the sanitisation operation,” Madhwal said.
  5. The navy said the maritime patrol aircraft had overflown the vessel early in the morning and established contact, ascertaining the safety of the crew. “The Indian Navy remains committed to ensuring safety of merchant shipping in the region along with international partners and friendly foreign countries,” the navy said.

(With PTI inputs)





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