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Updated December 16th, 2023 at 18:57 IST

Indian Navy's swift response to hijacking in Arabian Sea, warship deployed to meet any eventuality

The Indian Navy has intercepted the hijacked Malta-flagged vessel MV Ruen in the Arabian Sea after a distress call was received.

Yuvraj Tyagi
Indian Navy
Swift deployment of naval assets demonstrates the Navy's commitment to regional security. | Image:Indian Navy
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In a rapid and decisive response to a distress call, the Indian Navy has deployed its Mission Deployed platforms to address a hijacking incident in the Arabian Sea involving the Malta-flagged vessel MV Ruen. The vessel, carrying 18 crew members, transmitted a distress signal through the UKMTO portal on December 14, 2023. The distress signal indicated that approximately six unknown individuals had boarded the ship, prompting immediate action from Indian naval forces. 

Swiftly reacting to the unfolding situation, the Indian Navy took a two-pronged approach by diverting both its Naval Maritime Patrol aircraft, engaged in surveillance activities in the area, and a warship conducting Anti-Piracy patrol in the Gulf of Aden. The Naval Maritime Patrol aircraft conducted overflights of the MV Ruen during the early hours of December 15, 2023, establishing continuous monitoring of the vessel's movements. 

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Operational details 

The interception operation reached a crucial phase when an Indian Navy warship, strategically positioned in the Gulf of Aden for anti-piracy patrol, intercepted the MV Ruen in the early hours of the 16th of December, 2023. The situation is being vigilantly monitored with coordination efforts ongoing between the Indian Navy and other relevant agencies and Maritime Security Forces operating in the region.

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The incident underscores the Indian Navy's unwavering commitment to being a first responder in the region, aligning with its mandate to ensure the safety and security of merchant shipping. The ability to swiftly address and counter maritime security threats demonstrates the Navy's preparedness and operational efficiency in handling such crises.

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As per the Indian Navy, its Naval Maritime Patrol aircraft undertaking surveillance in the area and its warship on Anti-Piracy patrol in the Gulf Aden were diverted to locate and assist MV Ruen after the distress call was received. The Indian Navy aircraft overflew the hijacked vessel on early morning of December 15 and has been continuously monitoring movement of the vessel, which is now heading towards the coast of Somalia. Additionally, the European Union Naval Force (EUNAVFOR) has also dispatched Operation Atalanta Flagship ESPS Victoria, a Santa Maria-class frigate but it has not reached yet. Meanwhile, the Indian Navy continues to monitor the situation under the Standard Operating Procedures.

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Context of regional maritime challenges 

The recent response by the Indian Navy occurs against the backdrop of escalating maritime challenges in the region. Highlighting these challenges are the attacks on two Liberian-flagged ships in the Bab al-Mandab Strait by Houthi-controlled forces from Yemen. These attacks prompted major shipping companies, including A.P. Moller-Maersk and Hapag Lloyd, to temporarily halt container shipments through the Red Sea, underlining the broader implications of regional instability on maritime trade routes. 

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In the specific incidents, a drone struck the Liberian-flagged vessel Al Jasrah, resulting in a fire, while two ballistic missiles targeted the MSC Palatium III, causing another fire. The U.S. warship Mason responded promptly to the distress call from Palatium III. Additionally, Houthi forces issued threats to the MSC Alanya, compelling it to alter its course, further emphasizing the complex security landscape in regional waters. 

The Indian Navy's sustained presence in the Gulf of Aden, dedicated to anti-piracy operations since October 2008, has been instrumental in ensuring the security of vital maritime routes. By deploying one ship at a time, the Indian Navy escorts merchant ships through the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC). Notably, the Navy has successfully thwarted 40 attempted piracy incidents as of March 15, 2015, underscoring its crucial role in safeguarding the interests of international maritime trade.  

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The continuous efforts of the Indian Navy in this domain provide a critical bulwark against piracy and contribute to maintaining the integrity and safety of global maritime transportation networks. 

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Published December 16th, 2023 at 15:17 IST

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