Advertisement

Updated January 5th, 2024 at 22:29 IST

INS Chennai intercepts hijacked MV Lila Norfolk, MARCOS rescue 15 Indians on-board | Live

The Indian Navy is actively responding to an ongoing hijacking attempt in the Arabian Sea involving a Liberia-flagged bulk carrier.

Yuvraj Tyagi
Advertisement

Mumbai: The Indian Navy's Marine Commandos (MARCOS) successfully rescued all the crew, including 15 Indian nations, onboard the hijacked MV Lila Norfolk bulk carrier. As per defence officials, the sanitisation operations by the MARCOS are still ongoing in other parts of the vessel. As per navy officials, all 21 crew members were rescued and safely evacuated from the citadel. Notably, the sanitisation operations by MARCOs confirmed absence of the hijackers on-board the vessel.

According to officials, the attempt of hijacking the bulk carrier was “probably abandoned with the forceful warning by the Indian Navy, MPA of interception by Indian Naval warship." Meanwhile, INS Chennai stays deployed in the vicinity of MV Lila Norfolk and is rendering support to restore the power generation and propulsion of the ship to enable her voyage to next port of call.

Advertisement

Current Operational Status

The development came when Indian Navy's mission deployed INS Chennai intercepted the Liberia-flagged bulk carrier MV Lila Norfolk in the Arabian Sea, off Somalia coast. A helicopter full of the elite MARCOS, Indian Navy's special forces, was dispatched towards the hijacked vessel following warnings issued by the Navy for the hijackers to abondon the ship. As per the latest intelligence update, the elite MARCOS began the sanitisation operation on-board MV Lila Norfolk and sanitised the top deck of the hijacked vessel first.

Advertisement

Notably, INS Chennai diverted from her Anti Piracy patrol in the Arabian Ocean and intercepted the MV at 3:15 PM on January 05, 2024. The hijacked vessel was kept under continuous surveillance using Maritime Patrol Aircraft, the newly acquired Predator MQ9B and integral helos. The Indian Navy issued a stark warning to the pirates to abondon MV Lila Norfolk following which the sanitisation operation was launched. The situation is unfolding and being monitored by the Indian Navy. Furthermore, various naval platforms including patrol aircraft are currently engaged in the operations.

Advertisement

The vessel had transmitted distress signals on the UK Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) portal, reporting an attempted boarding by approximately five to six armed individuals in the evening of January 4, 2024. The hijacked ship has been identiefied as MV Lila Norfolk. The information about the hijacking was received last evening. There are 15 Indian crew on board the vessel which was hijacked near Somalia's coast. In a swift and decisive response, the Indian Navy launched a Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) and redirected INS Chennai, previously deployed for Maritime Security Operations, to the scene. The MPA conducted an overflight of the vessel early on January 5, establishing contact and confirming the safety of the crew. 

Indian Navy MARCOS during Exercise MALABAR 22. | Credit- Indian Navy

The elite Marine Commandos (MARCOS) of the Indian Navy are on-board the hijacked vessel as the naval aircraft continues to closely monitor the vessel's movements, and INS Chennai is actively engaged in rendering assistance. The overall situation is being closely monitored in coordination with other agencies and the Maritime Security Operations of friendly foreign countries in the area. The Indian Navy remains committed to ensuring the safety of merchant shipping in the region and is actively engaged in efforts to resolve the ongoing hijacking attempt.

Advertisement

Meanwhile, India's Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral R Hari Kumar has issued instructions to the Indian warships deployed in the Arabian Sea to take the strictest possible action against the pirates. Notably, four Indian Navy warships are mission deployed in the Arabian Sea to deter attacks on merchant ships in the region:

INS Chennai is the third and final ship of the Kolkata-class stealth guided missile destroyers to be commissioned into the Indian Navy. The ship was constructed by the Mazagon Dock Limited (MDL) in Mumbai. INS Chennai has a Bull on her seal, symbolising the Jallikattu festival celebrated in Tamil Nadu from where the ship associates its heritage. The Kolkata-class are a class of stealth guided-missile destroyers constructed under Indian Navy’s Project 15A. The class comprises three ships – Chennai, Kolkata, and Kochi. These are the largest destroyers to be operated by the Indian Navy.

Advertisement

Previous attack in the Arabian Sea

In a concerning turn of events on December 23, 2023, the crude oil tanker Chem Pluto fell victim to suspected drone strike while traversing from Jubail, Saudi Arabia, to New Mangalore Port, India. The attack occurred at 10:00 local time (06:00 GMT), about 200 miles southwest of Veraval. Striking the poop deck, the suspected drone penetrated the hull, resulting in internal damage, a fire outbreak, and a power failure.

Despite the gravity of the situation, the 22-member crew, predominantly Indian nationals, skillfully managed to contain the fire, restore power, and bring the vessel back under control. Promptly responding to the crisis, the Indian Information Fusion Centre for the Indian Ocean region alerted the Indian Coast Guard, which dispatched the patrol ship ICGS Vikram to assist and escort the tanker.

Advertisement

Simultaneously, the Indian Navy engaged in patrolling with a warship and P-8I maritime aircraft. The incident took an international turn when the United States Department of Defense attributed the attack to the Iranian military, a claim vehemently denied by the Iranian foreign ministry. This event raises significant concerns about maritime security and prompts further investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident.

Advertisement

Published January 5th, 2024 at 11:34 IST

Your Voice. Now Direct.

Send us your views, we’ll publish them. This section is moderated.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Whatsapp logo