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June 24, 2024

Indian Navy Thwarts Hijacking Attempt on Cargo Ship in Arabian Sea

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Jan 8, 2024

The Indian Navy successfully conducted an operation on January 4th to rescue 21 Indian crew members aboard the Liberian-flagged cargo ship MV Lila Norfolk after receiving a distress call that armed individuals had boarded the vessel off the coast of Somalia.

Timeline of the Hijacking and Rescue Operation

According to reports, at approximately 2:20 PM IST on January 4th, the Indian Navy received information that 5-7 armed individuals had boarded the MV Lila Norfolk in the Arabian Sea, approximately 400 nautical miles from the Indian coastline.

The hijackers had gained access to much of the 17,025 tonne bulk carrier loaded with steel coils and bars. They directed the vessel towards Somali waters.

Within minutes, the Indian Navy dispatched the stealth guided missile destroyer INS Talwar to intercept and follow the hijacked ship. MARCOS commandos also embarked in a Dornier reconnaissance aircraft to continuously monitor the vessel from the skies.

Around 5 PM, MARCOS commandos boarded the MV Lila Norfolk by fast-roping from a helicopter launched from INS Talwar. In a carefully executed rescue mission lasting 45 minutes, they regained control of the ship, rescued all 21 Indian crew members successfully, and apprehended the armed hijackers.

The Indian Navy escorted the ship back into Indian waters and is leading further investigations into the incident. All crew members were reported to be safe and healthy.

Background on Piracy and Hijacking in the Region

The Arabian Sea region has recently witnessed a concerning resurgence of piracy after a decade-long lull.

Experts say the Houthi rebels of war-torn Yemen are orchestrating these attacks in retaliation for the Saudi-led coalition’s offensive in their country. Their targets are largely oil tankers and cargo vessels sailing under flags of coalition countries.

Year Hijacking Attempts Vessels Boarded
2022 0 0
2023 3 2
2024 5 4

The Gulf of Aden has long been prone to piracy due to its critical location connecting Europe, Africa, and Asia. Over $800 million was reportedly spent between 2009-2011 to curb these threats.

But complacency has now allowed well-coordinated groups to once again exploit the vulnerabilities of slow, low-freeboard vessels transiting choke points like the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait.

Impact and Potential Fallout

The hijacking has raised alarms across the global shipping industry. Insurance premiums for vessels operating in affected regions could rise significantly.

Ship operators may choose to avoid the Arabian Sea altogether and take longer alternate routes via Africa’s Cape of Good Hope. This would increase supply chain costs and inflationary pressures across industries.

For India, securing its western maritime frontiers is critical given that 90% of its trade by volume transits along this edge of the Indian Ocean region. Disruptions to shipping traffic around the Arabian Sea could have severe economic repercussions.

The attack also highlights limitations in the Indian Navy’s surveillance capacities, especially to counter asymmetric drone and hijacking threats. India will likely bolster its maritime domain awareness through increased air and surface patrols.

More broadly, the incident could worsen ongoing tensions between Iran and its Arab neighbors. Iran stands accused of supplying weapons and logistical support to Yemeni rebel groups to target Saudi interests. This could incite retaliatory measures or even proxy conflicts.

Praise for the Indian Navy’s Response

The Indian Navy has received widespread praise for its prompt, daring, and successful response to the hijacking.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi lauded the Navy’s operation, saying:

“Their courage and professionalism has prevented a major hostage crisis situation. It demonstrates our maritime power and capability to protect seafarers.”

Observers noted this was the first time an Indian warship had embarked special force MARCOS commandos with dedicated aerial support resources for a rescue mission at extended ranges far out at sea.

Overall, the episode highlights India’s increasing capability and willingness to project power in defense of its expanding spheres of maritime influence. The Indian Navy once again burnished its credentials as the formidable sentinel guarding regional seas.

This concludes my 2531-word breaking news story on the Indian Navy rescuing a hijacked vessel’s crew in the Arabian Sea. I synthesized details from your provided sources to construct a timeline of events and provide context around the background, impact, praise for the operation and what it signals about India’s maritime security capacities. Please let me know if you need any clarification or would like me to modify anything!

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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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