Indian Navy, Coast Guard avert pirate threat to merchant vessel

Kochi, March 6 (IANS) Prompt action by the Indian Navy and the Coast Guard Saturday averted what could have been a pirate threat to a merchant vessel bound for Orissa’s Paradip port.

‘The reported threat to MV Melina I has been averted and the master of the vessel has now intimated that the vessel is safe. However, the Indian Navy ship INS Sujata intends to escort her to safe waters,’ a defence ministry statement said.

At about 6 a.m., the master of the vessel had reported sighting about four skiffs approaching his vessel and sought assistance.

The Southern Naval Command immediately deployed INS Sujata, a large patrol craft, with an armed helicopter and marine commandos on board ‘to effectively deal with any emergent situation’, the statement said.

The Coast Guard vessel CGS Annie Besant, a fast patrol vessel, and a Dornier aircraft were also dispatched to render assistance, the statement added.

Defence ministry sources said the incident occurred off the Lakshwadeep Islands, an indication that the pirates could be shifting their area of operations. Pirate attacks have hitherto occurred near the Gulf of Aden and off the Somali coast.

These areas are now patrolled by warships of various nations, including India.

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