Mumbai: `Hijacked` cargo ship captured by Navy

Last Updated: Monday, August 15, 2011 - 16:36

Mumbai: Braving adverse weather condition,
the Navy captured a `hijacked` Iranian flagged cargo vessel,
with nine persons on board, off the Mumbai coast following
intelligence inputs that it may be carrying arms, ammunition
and contraband, officials said on Monday.

Two AK-47 rifles and a pistol were recovered from the
ship, they said.

`Nafis-1`, which may have been hijacked, had five
Yemenis, two Tanzanians, one Kenyan and one Somalian on board,
defence spokesperson Manohar Nambiar said.

"It is not yet clear whether all of them are crew members
on this Iranian-flagged vessel, whether all are pirates or
only some of them are pirates. All of them have been
detained," he said.

"The persons on board are also giving different versions,
because of which, the confusion pertains if the ship was
hijacked or not," Nambiar added.

According to the Navy officials, vessel was intercepted
yesterday, following intelligence inputs. Two AK -47 rifles
and a pistol, concealed in an empty fuel tank of the ship,
have been found, they said.

Intelligence inputs suggested that the vessel had sailed
from Chah Bahar in Iran to an undisclosed location in July.

The inputs had also indicated that the vessel could have
been employed for smuggling or other nefarious activities and
carrying arms and ammunition, as well as other contraband.

The officials said that the 500-tonne general cargo
vessel was detected on Friday, at a distance of about 250
nautical miles by an Indian Naval Maritime Reconnaissance
aircraft `IL 38 SD`, which was on a surveillance mission in
the East Arabian sea.

Subsequently, INS Mysore, a guided missile destroyer, was
sent to intercept the vessel, along with two helicopters and
24 marine commandos, the officials said.

The Indian ship reached near the vessel on Saturday and
initially shadowed the vessel, in order to carry out a full
assessment of her threat potential, they added.

At the same time, the matter was deliberated at the
highest level, and a decision to carry out interdiction of the
vessel was made on Sunday, they said.

Despite adverse weather conditions and rough seas, with
wave heights of the order of 4 to 5 metres, INS Mysore
launched a swift and co-ordinated operation and there was no
resistance from anybody on the vessel.

Thereafter, the marine commandos (MARCOS) swiftly laid
siege to the vessel by slithering operations conducted from
the ship`s Chetak and Sea King 42 C helicopters, the officials
said.

The MARCOS carried out a thorough investigation of all
the compartments of the vessel and found two AK-47 rifles and
a pistol concealed in an empty fuel tank, they added.

The persons on the vessel have been put under custody in
a secure compartment.

INS Mysore has started towing Nafis-1 to Porbandar, where
the person on board and ship will be handed over the local
police and other investigating agencies for carrying out
further interrogation.

PTI



First Published: Monday, August 15, 2011 - 16:36

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