New Delhi, Nov 19 : The Indian Navy Warship, INS Tabar, armed with supersonic BrahMos (PJ-10) anti-ship cruise missiles, sank a pirate vessel off the Somali coast after an exchange of fire on Tuesday evening. This is second successful operation of the naval ship against the pirates in Gulf of Aden within a week.
The Indian Navy warship foiled an attempt by the pirates to hijack an Indian and a Saudi ship off the Somalian coast last Tuesday.
The incident happened on November 11 when the pirates on powerboats attacked the Saudi Arabia-registered merchant vessel "MV Timaha," and half an hour later a second group tried to board the Indian merchant vessel MV Jag Arnav, owned by the Great Eastern Shipping Co Ltd.
"INS Tabar, which is currently in the Gulf of Aden for Anti-Piracy Surveillance and Patrol Operations, encountered a pirate vessel, 285 nautical miles South West of Salalah (Oman) on the evening of November 18, with two speed boats in tow," said a Navy officer.
"This vessel was similar in description to the 'Mother Vessel' mentioned in various Piracy bulletins," he added.
"On repeated calls, the vessel's threatening response was that she would blow up the INS Tabar if it closed her. Pirates were seen roaming on the upper deck of this vessel with guns and rocket propelled grenade launchers. The vessel continued its threatening calls and subsequently fired upon INS Tabar," the officer said.
The INS Tabar retaliated in self-defence on being fired upon and destroyed pirates' mother vessel that was stacked with large amounts of ammunition.
Almost simultaneously, two speedboats were observed breaking off to escape. The ship chased the first boat that was later found abandoned. The other boat made good its escape into darkness.
INS Tabar, which is the third of the Talwar-class frigates of the Indian Navy, has been conducting anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden since October 23 as a sizeable portion of our country's trade flows through the area and there has been a quantum increase in the number of piracy attacks in this region over the last few months.
During this period, she has successfully escorted approximately 35 ships, including a number of foreign flagged vessels, safely during their transit through pirate infested waters of the Gulf of Aden and also prevented two hijacking attempts on November 11.
The Navy carries out these patrols in coordination with the Ministry of Shipping and is intended to protect Indian merchant vessels from being attacked by pirates and also to instill confidence in our large seafaring community.
Meanwhile, another ship flying a Hong Kong flag but operated by the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines has been hijacked in the Gulf of Aden waters. The status of the crew or its cargo remains unknown. By Praful Kumar Singh