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 Following a 40-hour-long operation in the Arabian Sea, the Indian Navy warship INS Kolkata is set to bring 35 apprehended pirates to India.

“The Indian Navy warship INS Kolkata has taken 35 sea pirates into custody and is being brought to India along with the 17 crew members rescued after the major operation,” officials said on Sunday. During the operation, the Indian Navy forced the pirates to surrender and rescued 17 crew members from the distressed merchant vessel MV Ruen on Saturday. The merchant vessel is also being brought to India.

The seaworthiness of MV Ruen was assessed in the morning on March 17, and the vessel, which is carrying approximately 37,800 tonnes of cargo, is estimated to be worth around one million dollars.

On Saturday, INS Kolkata, mission-deployed in the Arabian Sea, through a sustained high tempo of operations lasting over 40 hours, thwarted the designs of the Somali pirates to hijack ships transiting through the region by intercepting the pirate ship MV Ruen. The merchant vessel had been hijacked in December 2023 and was under the control of the Somali Pirates until the Indian Navy intercepted it on Friday.

The Indian Navy, as part of its Maritime Security Operations, has been carrying out extensive surveillance in the region, including monitoring traffic in Areas of Interest. Based on the analysis of the surveillance information, the Indian Navy was able to track the movement of the Pirate Ship Ruen and directed INS Kolkata to intercept the ship approximately 260 Nm East of Somalia.

“INS Kolkata intercepted Ruen in the morning of March 15 and confirmed the presence of armed pirates through a ship-launched drone. In a reckless hostile act, the pirates shot down the drone and fired at the Indian Naval warship. In a calibrated response in accordance with International Laws, Kolkata disabled the ship’s steering system and navigational aids, forcing the Pirate Ship to stop,” the Ministry of Defence said in an official statement.

INS Kolkata undertook precisely measured actions while maintaining her position close to the Pirate Ship and also engaged in forceful negotiations, which resulted in the pirates surrendering and releasing the pirate ship MV Ruen and its original crew present onboard.

The efforts of the Indian Navy in the ongoing anti-piracy operation 1400 nm (2600 km) from mainland India were augmented by the deployment of INS Subhadra in the area AM 16 Mar 24, and also by air-dropping of the Marine Commandos (PRAHARS) by C-17 aircraft in the same afternoon.

Additionally, the pirate vessel was kept under surveillance by HALE RPA and P8I maritime reconnaissance aircraft. Due to sustained pressure and calibrated actions by the Indian Navy over the last 40 hours, all 35 Somali pirates surrendered on March 16.

All 17 original crew members of MV Ruen were also safely evacuated from the pirate vessel without any injury. The vessel has also been sanitised for the presence of illegal arms, ammunition and contraband.

The seaworthiness of MV Ruen was assessed in the morning on March 17, and the vessel, which is carrying approximately 37,800 tonnes of cargo estimated at around one million dollars, will be brought safely to India.