The Indian Navy has escalated its response to the hijacking of the Liberia-flagged bulk carrier MV LILA NORFOLK. In swift action, a maritime patrol aircraft and the INS Chennai destroyer, engaged in Maritime Security Operations, were deployed after the Navy received an alert through the UKMTO portal on Thursday evening.
Approximately 5-6 armed individuals had boarded the vessel, prompting immediate intervention. Early Friday morning, the Indian Navy’s aircraft successfully overflew the hijacked ship, establishing contact and verifying the safety of the crew.
Ongoing surveillance by the aircraft is closely monitoring the movements of the vessel. Simultaneously, INS Chennai is rapidly approaching the area to provide necessary assistance, emphasizing a crucial step in ensuring the safety and security of both the crew and the ship.
This incident raises significant concerns in a region known for piracy incidents. Meanwhile, India is attentively observing the situation in the Red Sea, particularly amid increasing global apprehensions regarding Houthi militants escalating attacks on multiple commercial ships in the area.
The comments by external affairs ministry spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal came a day after the Indian Navy said its ships and aircraft remain “mission deployed” to maintain surveillance and undertake maritime security operations in the North and Central Arabian Sea.
“We attach very high importance to freedom of navigation, free movement of commercial shipping. It is an evolving situation and we are looking at all aspects of it,” Jaiswal said at a media briefing.
“As you know, we have Indian Navy ships patrolling the area. They are also keeping a watch on Indian ships there. So far, we are not part of any multilateral initiative in the area. We are looking at the unfolding situation very closely,” he said.
There have been concerns over Iran-backed Houthi militants launching strikes on several commercial ships in the Red Sea in the last couple of weeks amid the Israel-Hamas conflict.