When the Indian Navy received a distress call from a foreign merchant vessel MV OS 35 (Tuvalu registered vessel), which was attacked and boarded by pirates in the Gulf of Aden late night on 08 April, it promptly reached out for help but little did it know that the Chinese Navy would also be eager to do its bit.
Indian Navy ships Mumbai, Tarkash, Trishul and Aditya proceeding on deployment to the Mediterranean and passing through the Gulf of Aden, responded to the call and rapidly closed the merchant vessel by the early hours of 9 April.
Then, the Indian warships established contact with the Captain of the merchant vessel, who along with the crew had locked themselves in a strong room on board (citadel), as per standard operating procedure.
An Indian Navy helicopter also undertook aerial reconnaissance of the merchant vessel at night, and at sunrise, to sanitize the upper decks of the merchant ship and ascertain the location of pirates, if still on board.
Emboldened by Indian Navy’s helicopter cover, and on receiving the ‘all clear signal’ that no pirates were visible on the upper decks, some crew members gradually emerged from the strong room and carried out a search of the ship and ascertained that the pirates had fled the ship at night.
But then, in a show of international maritime cooperation against piracy, a boarding party from the nearby Chinese Navy ship went on board the merchant ship, while the Indian Naval helicopter provided air cover for the operation. The cooperation between the Chinese Navy and the Indian Navy added much-needed sugar in the sour relationship between the two nations.
It has been established that all 19 Filipino crew members are safe. The Captain of the merchant vessel profusely thanked the Indian Naval ships for their response and for providing air cover. Clearly, a happy ending for which Indian Navy must be thanked and Chinese Navy too deserves a pat on the back!
ChiPak challenge: Indians can bleed China and Pakistan in six ways!