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Maritime Incident in Gulf of Aden, Navy Chief Admiral R Hari Kumar affirms commitment to maritime security

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NEW DELHI /GOA : An official statement from a spokesperson for the Indian Navy reported on a maritime incident early Tuesday morning in the Gulf of Aden involving a Liberian-flagged vessel, the MV MSC Sky ll.

According to the statement, the vessel was attacked by drones or missiles and caught fire on March 4. The Navy promptly responded to the incident with INS Kolkata, which was deployed in the region for maritime security operations.

A specialized firefighting team from INS Kolkata, comprising 12 personnel, boarded the vessel on the morning of March 5th to assist with firefighting efforts. Additionally, an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team aided in assessing residual risks.

The vessel, carrying a crew of 23 individuals, including 13 Indians, was escorted to safe waters. The swift response by Indian navy assets underscores their commitment to ensuring the safety of merchant shipping and seafarers in the region. Chief of Naval Staff Admiral R Hari Kumar while speaking to the media persons in Goa addressed concerns over recent attacks by militants on merchant ships in the Red Sea. He also emphasised the navy’s aggressive stance against piracy and its dedication to maintaining peace and stability in the Indian Ocean region.

“We are committed to ensuring there is peace at sea. We will not allow piracy to resume. We are aggressively targeting it. We will not allow the Indian Ocean to be disturbed, especially about trade,” Admiral Hari Kumar stated.

The Admiral highlighted the challenges posed by conflicts in other regions spilling over into maritime territories. “The situation is not very good. The Houthis have been targeting merchant ships… that’s peaceful ships, ships largely belonging to either Israel, US or UK or Israeli owned,” he noted. He also emphasised the innovative use of technology such as drones in these attacks. Furthermore, Admiral Hari Kumar discussed the navy’s support for merchant ships passing through the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean region. “Primarily, we are looking at the Indian-flagged vessels, but we are also assisting any vessel that seeks our assistance… We have given a very clear message that we will not tolerate such acts,” he stated.

India has been vigorously safeguarding maritime domains, including trade routes and resources, that the admiral said remains a top priority for the navy.

PTI news agency reported that Defence Minister Shri Rajnath Singh emphasised the Indian Navy’s pivotal role in upholding the sovereignty and security of friendly countries in the Indo-Pacific region.

Rajnath was addressing a gathering at the inauguration of a new administrative building of the Naval War College near Panaji, Goa, Singh highlighted the Navy’s readiness and its commitment to assisting allied nations in the Indian Ocean.

“We have ensured that no country, regardless of its economic or military prowess, can suppress or undermine the sovereignty of our friendly nations in the Indo-Pacific,” stated Singh.

He underscored the Navy’s role in maintaining a balanced power dynamic in the region, preventing any hegemonic influence from dominating the Indian Ocean.

Singh emphasised that the Indian Navy’s presence serves as a bulwark against external pressure, ensuring the autonomy and sovereignty of neighbouring countries in the Indian Ocean Region.

Highlighting India’s naval capabilities, Singh noted the continuous strengthening of the Indian Navy, with expansions in the naval industrial base and the increasing presence of aircraft carriers. However, he emphasised that India’s growing maritime power is not geared towards dominance but towards fostering an environment of peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region. The swift response by Indian navy assets underscores their commitment to ensuring the safety of merchant shipping and seafarers in the region.

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