Navy sinks Somali pirate ship
New Delhi, November 19
The Navy’s warship, INS Tabar, which is currently on anti-piracy patrol in the Gulf of Aden, fired at three ships carrying well armed pirates. A fierce gun battle ensued in which the main ship of the pirates was sunk and they used two other small boats to escape.
The main ship that was sunk was towing two smaller speed boats, Navy sources said today. On November 11, The Indian Navy’s marine commandos had thwarted two attempts by pirates and fired using a chopper. In its brief deployment, the INS Tabar has escorted 35 ships through the Gulf of Aden onto the Suez Canal, including those of other countries. This action is giving international goodwill to the Navy, besides increasing the recognition quotient for India’s maritime force.
Separately, questions are being raised in the security establishment whether there was a danger of the pirates, acting jointly with the Al-Qaeda terrorists or at their instance, blowing up oil-laden supertankers near ports or major route like the Suez canal in order to disrupt maritime trade passing through the region.
Two days ago, pirates captured a 3.18 lakh tonne super oil tanker. The ship is more than 1,000 feet long and is stated to be carrying huge amounts of crude.
Meanwhile, Naval spokesperson Commander Nirad Sinha said today the INS Tabar encountered a pirate vessel, 285 nautical miles south west of Salalah in Oman in the Gulf of Aden.
Commander P.K. Banerjee of the Indian Naval warship closed on to the pirate vessels and asked them to stop for investigation. On repeated calls, the pirates threatened to blow up the Indian warship if it sailed any closer. The pirates were seen roaming on the upper deck of their main ship with guns and rocket-propelled grenade launchers. They continued giving threatening calls and subsequently fired upon the Indian warship, the spokesperson added.
The Indian ship retaliated in self defence and opened fire using its on board weapons. As a result, a fire broke out on the pirate ship and explosions were seen and heard, possibly due to exploding ammunition that was stored on the vessel by the pirates. Almost simultaneously, two speed boats, that were towed by the main ship were observed breaking off to escape. The Indian naval ship chased the first speed boat, which was later found abandoned. The other boat made good its escape into darkness.
The main ship used by the pirates was similar in description to the vessel mentioned in various piracy bulletins.
While some of the pirates could have escaped in the speed boats, a few on board the destroyed main ship perished, the sources said.
The incident came as shipping groups reported a new surge in hijackings off Somalia and the international maritime bureau said pirates based in the lawless northeast African nation were now out of control.
This year, there have so far been 81 incidents of pirates attack -- 58 in the Gulf of Aden, 12 off the east coast of Somalia and 11 off Tanzania. In 36 of these incidents, the pirates managed to hijack the ships. Twelve of these ships, with a total of 250 crew members, are still in the custody of the Somali pirates.
Dubai, November 19
“Negotiators are located on the ship and on land. Once they have agreed on the ransom, it will be taken in cash to the oil tanker,” said the man identified as Farah Abd Jameh, who did not indicate the amount to be paid.
“We assure the safety of the ship that carries the ransom. We will mechanically count the money and we have machines that can detect fake money,” the man said on an audio tape produced by the Dubai-based television network. Seized at the weekend in the Indian Ocean some 800 km off the coast of Kenya, the Sirius Star is now anchored at the Somali pirate lair of Harardhere, according to local officials.
The super-tanker was loaded to capacity with two million barrels of oil, when it was seized along with its crew of 25. It was the largest ship yet taken by the Somali pirates and the attack furthest away from Somalia. — AFP
Nairobi, November 19
Nairobi, November 19