Indian navy commandos thwarted a suspected Somali pirate attack on the Greek bulk carrier Melina 1 off the Indian coast, East African maritime officials and the Indian navy said yesterday.
Andrew Mwangura, of the East African Seafarers Assistance Programme, said the weekend attack about 200 nautical miles (370 km) west of India’s Lakshwadeep islands closely resembled those of Somali pirates.
“The location seems way outside Somali pirate territory but the unsuccessful attack seems to bear all the hallmarks of Somali pirates three mother ships, two skiffs,” he told Reuters.
India’s navy confirmed the incident, saying it despatched elite marine commandos, a coastguard vessel and an attack helicopter when it received a distress call from the Malta-flagged vessel during the early hours of Saturday.
“The hijacking attempt was successfully thwarted and we escorted the ship for awhile and she is now safe,” Commander Roy Francis of the Indian navy told Reuters, adding that the team had returned to base.
The navy team was not sure of the identity of the pirates and Somali pirates had not previously been known to attack vessels so close to the Indian Territory.
Mwangura said the vessel was transporting coal to India from Ukraine, with a 23-member Ukrainian-Filipino crew.
Somali pirate gangs typically hold hijacked ships for ransom, which often runs into millions of dollars.
Pic:Indian Navy INS Tabar ship