Indian Navy has thwarted an attack by Somali pirates on a Chinese merchant vessel in the Arabian Sea, saving 24 Chinese nationals in an operation that earned gratitude from Beijing.
The Indian Navy swung into action and mobilised its aircraft and ships immediately after receiving an emergency call from the Chinese authorities early morning Thursday.
The Chinese vessel MV Fu Cheng (Full City), registered in Panama, faced a pirate attack 450 nautical miles off the Karwar Coast (of Karnataka) while it was on its way from Jeddah to Tuticorin port, Navy spokesman said.India received an emergency call from the Chinese authorities at around 0845 hours and immediately the Navy directed one of its TU 142 aircraft, which was carrying out anti piracy patrol in the region, and a Coast Guard ship to thwart the attempt by pirates, he said.
Over 20 Chinese crew members in the vessel had locked themselves in safe rooms of the ship.
Within 30 minutes, the TU 142 (Maritime Reconnaissance) aircraft was flying above MV Full City.
“It observed a pirate mother ship and an empty skiff alongside the ship,” the spokesman said, adding the pirates were already on the deck of the ship.
To drive away the pirates, the aircraft made sorties over the ship and directed the pirates, over radio, to leave the merchant ship immediately, warning that naval warships were closing in.
“The aircraft made a number of low passes over the ship and sternly asked the pirates through radio to leave the ship immediately,” said Defence spokesman Captain M Nambiar in Mumbai.
The warning had the desired effect and the skiff fled from the Chinese vessel along with the pirates and headed for its mother ship nearby, Nambiar said.
As there were no surface forces in the immediate vicinity to board MV Full City and sanitise the ship, the aircraft remained over the Chinese ship for over three hours assisting the rescue operation by coordinating with the NATO Task Force in the nearby region, Navy officials added.
“The Chinese Task Force 526 thanked the Indian Navy for its prompt and persistent action leading to neutralising the pirate attack on the ship,” they said.
The Chinese Embassy in New Delhi also conveyed its gratitude to India for the action, the officials said.
The operation highlighted the alacrity of the Indian Navy and also reflected adept international cooperation maintained by the Indian Navy as this operation involved coordination with the NATO Task Force, the Chinese Task Force and the Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre at Beijing, the officials said.