Indian Navy saves Chinese ship from pirates

China thanked the Indian Navy for its prompt and persistent action to save its sailors.

Last Updated: May 07, 2011, 00:39 AM IST

New Delhi/Mumbai: Prompt action by the Indian Navy staved off a pirate attack on a Chinese cargo vessel far out in the Arabian Sea, forcing the brigands to flee and earning kudos from the authorities in Beijing, a senior naval official said Friday.

An Indian Navy TU-142 maritime reconnaissance aircraft made several low sorties over the MV Full City, 450 nautical miles (850 km) off Karwar in Karnataka, warning the pirates to immediately leave the vessel or face the wrath of Indian Navy and Coast Guard ships that were fast closing in.

The warnings worked and the pirates scampered into the skiff from which they had boarded the vessel and sailed toward a nearby mothership, which immediately set off toward Somalia at full speed, the official said, requesting anonymity due to service rules.

The aircraft stayed on station for four hours till the Indian combat vessels arrived on the scene in an operation that was closely coordinated with a NATO Task Force, a Chinese Task Force and the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre at Beijing, highlighting the international cooperation in the anti-piracy efforts in the Indian Ocean, the official said.

"The Chinese Task Force also thanked the Indian Navy for its prompt and persistent action leading to the pirate attack on MV Full City being repelled," the officer added.

MV Full City, a bulk carrier loaded with rock phosphate and bound for Tuticorin port in Tamil Nadu, came under siege from the pirates at 8.45 a.m. on Thursday about 450 nautical miles (850 km) west of Karwar in Karnataka.

The 24-member Chinese crew quickly locked themselves up in the vessel`s safe house, preventing their capture by the pirates, and sent out an emergency message that the Indian Navy promptly responded to by sending out its vessels and an aircraft, the officer said.

Sailors from the Turkish naval vessel Giresun, which is part of the NATO Task Force, eventually boarded MV Full City and sanitised it before the crew came out of the safe house.

MV Full City is now continuing its passage through the eastern Arabian Sea, with its safety assured by the sustained anti-piracy vigil being maintained by the Indian Navy and the Indian Coast Guard, the officer added.

He said that India`s efforts in the Arabian Sea and the eastern Arabian Sea, both independent and collaborative, have resulted in a drop of over 80 percent in pirate attacks in the region, with not a single attack in April.

In the past few months, the Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard have not only prevented several pirate attacks but also sunk four pirate mother-ships and nabbed over 100 brigands, who have been booked by the Mumbai police.