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"Indian Ocean named after us, if we don't take action...": Navy chief vows to ensure safety of region

New Delhi: Affirming Indian Navy actions to secure the region from the threat posed by piracy and drone attacks, Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral R Hari Kumar said that the Indian Navy is very clear about its job and will take affirmative action to ensure there is safety and security in the Indian Ocean, adding that the region is named after India.

"Earlier there were 54-55 anti-piracy ships every day and now it has gone up to 64-65. These are from the Anti Piracy Escort Force from China and EUNAVFOR from Europe. As they are present there according to their national directions, the Indian Navy is very clear about its job," he said at a press conference on Saturday.

"This is the Indian Ocean, named after us, and if we don't take action, then who will? Bhartiya Nau Sena will take affirmative action to ensure there is safety and security in the Indian Ocean," he added.

The statement comes on the completion of 100 days of the Indian Navy's operations for anti-drone, anti-missile, and anti-piracy attacks in the Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea, and Red Sea.

The Naval Chief also spoke on merchant vessels being used as 'mother vessels' like MV Ruen, rescued in a high-stakes operation in the Arabian Sea, and said that the Indian Navy is now keeping a close watch on the southern group which could have 35-60 pirates and hijacked MV Abdullah vessel suspected to be used as a mother ship.

"We have always suspected that there are mother vessels and we were thinking that they must be dhows. But we were surprised that MV Ruen was being used as a mother vessel after it was hijacked three months ago in Somali waters. We suspect that there may be a southern group which may have 35-60 pirates. We are keeping a close watch on MV Abdullah which has been hijacked and may be used as a mother ship," he said.

Earlier, on Saturday, as many as 35 Somali pirates, who were captured by the Indian Navy, were handed over to Mumbai Police after due formalities of Customs and Immigration.

Visuals from the Naval Dockyard, Mumbai, showed the pirates standing in a queue as Mumbai Police assigned them chest numbers.

The operation involved a navy destroyer, a patrol ship, an Indian Air Force C-17 transporter flying more than 1,500 miles to airdrop marine commandos, a naval drone, a reconnaissance drone and a P-8 surveillance jet, the Indian Navy release said.

Somali pirates' capture of the MV Ruen in December last year marked the first successful hijacking of a vessel off the country's coast since 2017.

But when the Ruen, now operated by a pirate crew, last week left Somali waters with the intent of committing acts of piracy on the high seas, the Indian Navy made moves to intercept it.

Based on the analysis of the surveillance information the Indian Navy was able to track the movement of the Pirate Ship Ruen and directed INS Kolkata to intercept the ship approximately 260 Nm East of Somalia.

Kolkata intercepted Ruen in the morning of March 15, and confirmed the presence of armed pirates through a ship-launched drone.

The pirates shot down the drone and fired at the Indian Naval warship. In a calibrated response INS Kolkata disabled the ship's steering system and navigational aids, forcing the Pirate Ship to stop.

INS Kolkata undertook precisely measured actions while maintaining her position close to the Pirate Ship and also engaged in forceful negotiations, which resulted in the Pirates surrendering and releasing the pirate ship MV Ruen and its original crew present onboard.

All 35 Somali pirates surrendered March 16. All 17 original crew members of MV Ruen were also safely evacuated from the pirate vessel without any injury. 

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