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May 22, 2024

Indian Navy Rescues Crew of Hijacked Ship in Dramatic High Seas Operation

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Jan 5, 2024

The Indian Navy has rescued the crew of a Liberian-flagged cargo ship that was boarded by armed men off the coast of Somalia earlier this week, in a dramatic high seas operation in the Arabian Sea.

Hijackers Attack and Board MV Lila Norfolk

On January 3rd, the MV Lila Norfolk, carrying general containerized cargo, was transiting past Somalia when 8-10 armed men approached in two speed boats and fired upon the ship (source). The hijackers were able to board the 348 ft long ship and take control of the navigation (source).

There were 20 crew members onboard the MV Lila Norfolk, most of whom were Indian nationals (source).

Indian Navy Swiftly Deploys Warship, Aircraft

As soon as the hijacking was detected, the Indian Navy deployed the INS Chennai stealth guided-missile destroyer along with maritime patrol aircraft to intercept and establish contact with MV Lila Norfolk (source).

The Navy stated that it was “closely monitoring” the situation (source) and warned the hijackers that appropriate action would be taken if the safety of the hostages was threatened (source).

Vessel Type INS Chennai
Category Stealth Guided Missile Destroyer
Built By Mazagon Dock Limited, Mumbai
Commisioned 2016
Armament BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles, Barak-8 air/missile defense system

INS Chennai fact table (source: https://www.eurasiareview.com/04012024-houthi-rebels-drag-india-into-red-sea-crisis-analysis/)

MARCOS Commandos Storm Hijacked Ship

With the warship providing cover, MARCOS commandos of the Indian Navy were deployed to board the MV Lila Norfolk while it was underway and rescue the crew in a daring night-time raid on January 4th (source).

Video footage shows MARCOS commandos fast-roping from helicopters onto the ship’s deck under night vision, methodically clearing the vessel and eliminating any hostile threat on board (source).

All 20 crew members, which included 19 Indians and 1 Filipino, were safely evacuated from the ship and received medical treatment onboard INS Chennai. No major injuries were reported among them (sources) (sources).

Speculation on Perpetrators

While official statements have not blamed any specific group, experts speculate the hijackers were likely affiliated with Al-Shabaab militants based out of Somalia (source).

In 2022 and 2023, Al-Shabaab was responsible for over 55 attacks on ships in waters off Somalia and demanded multi-million dollar ransoms from shipping companies (source).

Impact and Aftermath

The dramatic rescue by the Indian Navy has been praised by maritime organizations globally. However, it highlights the rising threat of piracy in the Western Indian Ocean Region. Attacks had reduced in the area after international naval patrols began in 2008, but incidents are rising once again (source).

To counter this, India has boosted surveillance efforts and is coordinating with other navies like the EU Naval Force patrolling these waters (source). The issue will likely be on the agenda for the upcoming India-Japan maritime affairs dialogue on January 10th (source).

The 20 rescued crew members of MV Lila Norfolk are now safe, but tensions are bound to be high after this audacious hijacking attempt in the Arabian Sea.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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