Indian Transport & Logistics

Indian Marcos free ship of Somali pirates

Where others dread to go, Indian navy frees MV Lila Norfolk of pirates in less than 24 hours

Indian Marcos free ship of Somali pirates

Credit: Indian Navy

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The Indian navy successfully evacuated all 21 crew members, including 15 Indians, aboard the hijacked vessel MV Lila Norfolk off the coast of Somalia in less than 24 hours.

"Indian Navy's swift response to the hijacking attempt of MV Lila Norfolk in the North Arabian Sea. All 21 crew (including 15 Indians) onboard safely evacuated from the citadel. Sanitisation by Marine Commandos (Marcos) has confirmed the absence of the hijackers," the Indian Navy said in a statement.

“The attempt of hijacking by the pirates was probably abandoned with the forceful warning by the Indian Navy Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) of interception by an Indian Naval warship. INS Chennai is in the vicinity of MV and rendering support to restore the power generation & propulsion, and commence her voyage to the next port of call,” the statement added.

While Marcos continued their sanitisation operations in different sections of the vessel, reports indicate that the elite Marcos found no pirates. The rescued crew members shared that the pirates had opened fire during the hijack attempt, prompting them to seek refuge in the vessel's citadel ((a concealed compartment used during pirate attacks for the crew to take refuge and safeguard themselves).

INS Chennai, diverted from its anti-piracy patrol, intercepted MV Lila Norfolk at 3:15 pm on Friday. Continuous surveillance of the vessel was maintained using MPA, Predator MO9B, and integral helicopters. Marcos, part of the mission deployed warship, boarded MV Lila Norfolk and initiated the sanitisation process, as per the navy statement.

R Hari Kumar, Chief Admiral, Indian Navy, issued directives to Indian warships in the Arabian Sea, urging them to take the strictest possible action against pirates, ANI reported.

The Liberian-flagged cargo ship MV Lila Norfolk, with 15 Indian crew members, was seized on January 4, 2024 by pirates 300 nautical miles east of Somalia. The vessel was en route from Port Du Aco in Brazil to Khalifa Bin Salman in Bahrain when pirates seized control.

The ship sent a distress message on the UKMTO (United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations) portal, indicating the boarding by approximately five to six unknown armed individuals on the evening of January 4, 2024.

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