Indian Navy thwarts hijacking attempt in Arabian Sea

The Indian Navy successfully thwarted a hijacking attempt in the Arabian Sea, rescuing the crew of MV Lila Norfolk.

In a swift operation on Friday, the Indian Navy successfully thwarted an attempted hijacking in the Arabian Sea and rescued the crew of the Liberian-flagged MV Lila Norfolk, a bulk carrier chartered by miner Anglo-American. The incident occurred about 460 nautical miles off Somalia, less than a day after the UK Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) agency received a report that the vessel had been boarded by about five to six armed individuals.

Responding to the distress call, an Indian Navy warship intercepted the vessel and evacuated all 21 crew members, including 15 Indians, who had sought refuge in the ship’s citadel. Contrary to initial concerns, no pirates were found on board. The vessel, loaded with iron ore, had set sail from the Acu port in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on December 6 and was en route to Khalifa bin Salman in Bahrain. The ship is expected to reach its destination on January 12.

Anglo-American, the charterer of the vessel, confirmed that the entire crew was safe, appreciating the prompt action of the Indian Navy. The Navy attributed the success of the rescue mission to a forceful warning that likely compelled the pirates to abandon their hijacking attempt.

The Indian Navy has heightened its surveillance of the Arabian Sea in response to a resurgence of hijacking incidents in the Gulf of Aden and Arabian Sea. The recent upswing in piracy activities is believed to stem from a redirection of the focus of anti-piracy naval forces, primarily the U.S.-led coalition, from the Gulf of Aden to the Red Sea to counter threats posed by Houthi rebels.

Data from the Indian Navy’s Information Fusion Centre – Indian Ocean Region indicates at least three hijacking incidents in December, marking a resurgence in such activities after a six-year lull. Analysts, including Abhijit Singh from the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi, attribute this to pirates exploiting the diminished attention on the Gulf of Aden.

Thus, there arises the need for regional cooperation to effectively combat the resurgence of maritime piracy. As the Arabian Sea becomes a focal point for piracy once again, naval forces are urged to adopt strategies to counter these threats and ensure the safety of vital maritime trade routes.