Indian Navy abandons escort of freed vessel

Indian warship had reached the coordinates of MV Suez on Thursday morning.

New Delhi: The Indian Navy on Thursday abandoned its effort to escort Egyptian cargo ship freed on Tuesday by Somali pirates to Oman after the vessel`s Pakistani captain failed to respond to its efforts to establish contact, a statement said.

Indian warship, the frigate INS Godavari, had reached the coordinates of MV Suez, which has six Indians among its 22-man crew, on Thursday morning and till late evening, made efforts to reach the merchant ship`s captain through every available means.

"On reaching MV Suez, INS Godavari made every effort through all available means and channels to communicate with Suez. However, the master of MV Suez did not respond," a Navy press release said here.

MV Suez`s captain is a Pakistani national.

Godavari, which was escorting two other merchant vessels in Gulf of Aden when it was tasked to close MV Suez on Wednesday morning after it came under a fresh pirate attack, has since returned to the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC).

But the Indian Navy is still continuing to monitor the progress of MV Suez to Salalah in Oman, the ship`s immediate destination.

The cargo ship was released by Somali pirates on Tuesday after its owners paid USD 2.1 million as ransom. But after it set out for Salalah, it came under a fresh, but failed, pirate attack on Wednesday morning.

Family members of the Indian sailors and MV Suez`s crew had criticised the Indian government and the Navy for not doing enough to secure the cargo vessel during its transit to Oman.

"After confirming that MV Suez was safe and was being escorted by other warships of coalition forces deployed in the Gulf of Aden, the Indian Navy ship continued with its task of escorting the two other merchant vessels in the Gulf of Aden, whilst at the same time monitoring the transit of MV Suez, in coordination with other navies," the release said.

When the SOS call came from MV Suez on Wednesday, the Indian Navy had actively coordinated with all coalition force navies and other individual navies operating in the Gulf of Aden for providing cover to the merchant ship.

"Navies with ships which were closest to MV Suez have responded to the request for assistance," the release said. Pakistani frigate PNS Babar was the closest to MV Suez and it went to its immediate aid. It now continues to escort the merchant vessel to Salalah.

"Commencing Thursday morning, MV Suez has started her transit through the Gulf of Aden. The transit of MV Suez is being monitored by all warships deployed in the Gulf of Aden," the Indian Navy said.


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