Warship INS Kolkata carrying 35 pirates, apprehended off Somalia coast, reaches Mumbai

The exercise was undertaken as part of Operation Sankalp, with Indian Navy ships deployed in the Arabian Sea and Gulf of Aden

INS Kolkata intercepted pirate ship Ruen almost 2600 km from the Indian Coast (photo: @indiannavy/X)
INS Kolkata intercepted pirate ship Ruen almost 2600 km from the Indian Coast (photo: @indiannavy/X)


The Indian Navy warship INS Kolkata, carrying 35 pirates who were apprehended in an operation off the coast of Somalia, reached Mumbai on Saturday morning, the navy has said, with the pirates handed over to Mumbai Police.

The exercise was undertaken as part of the ongoing Operation Sankalp, wherein Indian Navy ships are deployed in the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Aden for the safety of seafarers and mercantile trade passing through the region.

"INS Kolkata, with the 35 apprehended pirates, returned to Mumbai on March 23 and handed over the pirates to the local police for further legal action in accordance with Indian laws, specifically the Maritime Anti Piracy Act 2022," the Navy said.

In an operation lasting over 40 hours that commenced in the early hours of 15 March, INS Kolkata intercepted the pirate ship ex-MV Ruen in the Arabian Sea based on inputs received by the navy's Information Fusion Centre —Indian Ocean Region from UKMTO (United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations).

The ship was being used as a mother ship to conduct piracy attacks and hijack merchantmen, the navy said. INS Kolkata began shadowing the pirate ship in the early hours of 15 March.

The vessel, upon sighting INS Kolkata, reversed course and started heading towards the Somali coast. Several armed pirates were observed on the ship's upper deck, the navy said.

INS Kolkata ordered the pirate ship to stop for investigation in accordance with international law, especially the United Nations Conventions on the Laws of the Sea (UNCLOS). However, the pirate ship refused to comply and instead opened fire.

"INS Kolkata thereafter acted in self-defence and used kinetic measures required to disable the ship and compel the pirates to surrender," it said. INS Subhadra joined INS Kolkata in the operation. Further, the navy undertook long range deployment and paradrop of marine commandos over the sea in vicinity of the pirate ship using C17 aircraft in coordination with the Indian Air Force.

Aerial surveillance for the operation was undertaken by the navy's P8I aircraft, Sea Guardian UAV, and the ship's integral helicopters and spotter drones.

"In the face of decisive action by the Indian Navy, all pirates onboard surrendered. The 35 pirates and 17 crew members were duly taken into custody and shifted to Indian Naval ships," the navy statement said.

The navy searched and sanitised the ship with respect to arms, ammunition and contraband, rendering it safe. In addition, assessment of seaworthiness and essential repairs were undertaken by the naval technical team, for making the ship fit for further voyage.

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