Mumbai, (IANS) Indian and Chinese navies joined hands to save a Tuvalu-flagged container ship with 19 Filipino crew members which was attacked by pirates late on Saturday night in the Gulf of Aden, an official said here on Sunday.
Responding to an alert from UK Maritime Trade Organisation (UKMTO), the Indian Navy deployed its warships INS Mumbai, INS Trishul, INS Aditya and INS Tarkash which were on a mission to the Mediterranean, to help the 21,000-ton bulk cargo carrier sailing from Kelang Port in Malaysia to Port of Aden.
Early on Sunday, the Indian naval ships managed to establish contact with the container ship’s captain who, along with the crew, had locked themselves in a strongroom onboard.
An Indian Navy helicopter carried out an aerial reconnaissance of the ship to “sanitize” the upper decks of the ship and trace the whereabouts of the pirates who could still be on board.
Emboldened by the Indian Naval cover and on receiving an “all clear signal” that there was no sign of any pirate on board, the crew members gradually emerged from the strong room.
Later, a Chinese naval team boarded the ship, while the Indian Navy helicopter provided air cover.
They carried out a full search of the vessel and ascertained that the pirates had fled the ship under cover of darkness after their attempt to hijack the vessel was foiled.