After a high-voltage drama in the high seas, all 21 crew members, including 15 Indian nationals, from the hijacked vessel MV Lila Norfolk off Somalia coast were safely evacuated by the Indian Navy on Friday, January 5, 2024.
“Indian Navy’s Swift Response to the Hijacking Attempt of MV Lila Norfolk in the North Arabian Sea. All 21 crew (incl 15 Indians) onboard safely evacuated from the citadel. Sanitisation by MARCOs has confirmed the absence of the hijackers,” the statement read.
The operation involved meticulous planning and execution, ensuring the safety of the crew members who were held hostage on the hijacked vessel. The confirmation of the absence of hijackers through sanitization by MARCOs (Marine Commandos) underscores the precision and effectiveness of the Indian Navy’s intervention.
The attempt of hijacking by the pirates was probably abandoned with the forceful warning by the Indian Navy, MPA of interception by Indian Naval warship, the statement read. INS Chennai is in the vicinity of MV and rendering support to restore the power generation and propulsion, and commence her voyage to next port of call.
Indian Navy’s elite Marine Commandos are still carrying out sanitisation operations in other parts of the vessel, the military officials told ANI.
According to the officials, MARCOS didn’t found any pirates on the hijacked vessel. The rescued crew has informed that the pirates had fired at the ship during hijack attempt after which they all hid themselves in the citadel.
INS Chennai diverted from her Anti-Piracy patrol and intercepted the MV at 3:15 pm on Friday. “MV was kept under continuous surveillance using Maritime Patrol Aircraft, Predator MQ9B and integral helos. The Indian Navy Marine Commandos present onboard the Mission Deployed warship boarded the MV and have commenced the Sanitisation,” the earlier statement from Indian Navy stated.
In another development, Indian Navy Chief Admiral R Hari Kumar issued directives to the Indian warships operating in the Arabian Sea to take the “strictest possible action” against the pirates, defence officials said.
Earlier, the Indian naval warship INS Chennai reached the hijacked vessel MV Lila Norfolk off Somalia coast and issued a warning to the pirates on board to abandon the vessel.
Earlier, the officials had informed that the merchant vessel MV Lila Norfolk was hijacked by pirates 300 nautical miles east of Somalia, while it was sailing from Port Du Aco in Brazil and was bound for Khalifa Bin Salman in Bahrain.
The Indian Navy’s Mission Deployed Platforms responded swiftly to the hijacking attempt on board a Liberian-flagged bulk carrier after it received a message on the UKMTO portal indicating boarding by approximately five to six unknown armed personnel on Thursday evening, the Indian Navy said in a statement.
In response to the situation, the Indian Navy launched an Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) and diverted INS Chennai, deployed for maritime security operations, to assist the vessel. (With inputs from ANI)