Indian navy captures ship from Somali pirates, rescuing 17 crew members

Navy captures MV Ruen off the Indian coast, ending the three-month hijacking of the Maltese-flagged bulk carrier.

Indian naval forces including special commandos have seized a cargo vessel that had been hijacked by Somali pirates and rescued 17 crew members, a spokesperson for the navy said.

In a post on the social media platform X on Saturday, the navy said that all 35 pirates on board the Maltese-flagged bulk cargo vessel MV Ruen had surrendered, and the ship had been checked for the presence of illegal arms, ammunition and contraband.

The MV Ruen was hijacked late last year and the navy said it first intercepted the vessel on Friday.

“The pirates onboard the vessel have been called upon to surrender and release the vessel and any civilians they may be holding against their will,” the navy said in a statement.

“The Indian navy remains committed to maritime security and safety of seafarers in the region,” it added.

The vessel may have been used as the base for the takeover of a Bangladesh-flagged cargo ship off the coast of Somalia earlier this week, the European Union naval force said.

The hijacking of the Ruen in December was the first successful takeover of a vessel involving Somali pirates since 2017 when a crackdown by international navies stopped a rash of seizures in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean.

#INSKolkata, in the last 40 hours, through concerted actions successfully cornered and coerced all 35 Pirates to surrender & ensured safe evacuation of 17 crew members in the evening today #16Mar 24 from the pirate vessel without any injury.#INSKolkata had carried out the…

— SpokespersonNavy (@indiannavy) March 16, 2024

Somali pirates have caused chaos in important global waterways for a decade, but had been dormant until a resurgence of attacks starting late last year.

India has deployed at least a dozen warships east of the Red Sea to provide security against pirates as Western powers focus on attacks by Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthis.

The subcontinent’s navy has also increased its surveillance of the Arabian Sea after a recent spate of attacks in the region.

In January, the navy rescued all crew members from a Liberian-flagged merchant vessel after its attempted hijack in the Arabian Sea.

At least 17 incidents of hijacking, attempted hijacking and suspicious approaches have been recorded by the Indian navy since December 1.

Data from the Indian navy’s Information Fusion Centre – Indian Ocean Region shows at least three hijackings in December.

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