M A I N   N E W S

Indian Navy rescues Chinese vessel
China refuses to acknowledge Indian efforts
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 6
That India enjoys edgy relationship with China was reinforced when China today did not acknowledge the effort of the Indian Navy in saving its merchant vessel from the clutches of pirates some 850 km off Karwar on the western sea coast of India.

Navy’s effort led to the rescue of 24 Chinese sailors and the merchant vessel, MV Full City (Chinese name Fucheng) in the Arabian sea after Somali pirates had boarded it and the sailors were huddled together in a strong room. The incident occurred yesterday morning and Navy’s aviators and warships played a major role in the three-hour-long operation.

The Chinese official line given by its transport ministry is that US and Turkish warships played a role. It does not mention India. The same has been reported by China’s official news agency Xinhua from Beijing.

The Indian Navy was alerted by an SOS from the ship around 8: 45 am yesterday. The Chinese Embassy here in New Delhi followed it up with written request that was sent through fax. Once the operation was over the Chinese Navy’s anti-piracy task force - two warships and tanker - deployed in the gulf, thanked the Indian Navy over the open maritime communication band that was heard and recorded by merchant vessels, warships and naval aircraft in the vicinity. The Chinese ships were stationed some 2000 km away from the spot.

The Indian Navy today said following an SOS from the merchant vessel to a maritime reconnaissance aircraft Tupelov 142 was pressed into action. Along the sea coast vessel CGS Samar was speeding towards the ship.

The Naval aircraft reached above the MV Full City around 9: 15 am. The aircraft observed a pirates main vessel next to merchant vessel and an empty skiff - a fast boat -- alongside it.

The aircraft made a number of low passes over the ship and warned the pirates, over the open radio, to leave the merchant ship immediately, advising them that Naval warships were closing in the area. On getting the warning the pirates fled the merchant ship.

Since no warship was close by, the naval aircraft maintained overhead surveillance for over three hours assisting the rescue operation by co-ordinating with the NATO sea task Force. Sailors from the Turkish naval vessel, Giresun, which is part of the NATO Force, eventually boarded MV Full City and sanitised it even as the Indian Navy aircraft hovered overhead. Incidentally, the Chinese task force was in the know of Indian Navy’s role and were in radio contact throughout.

The Indian Navy said there has been a drop of over 80 per cent in the number of piracy attacks in the Eastern parts of Arabian Sea - that closer to India. As a matter of fact, in the month of April 2011, there was not a single reported piracy attack in the area.





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