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HindustanTimes Sat,23 Aug 2014

‘Detained US ship part of anti-pirate ops, not a threat’

HT Correspondents , Hindustan Times  New Delhi/Chennai, October 21, 2013
First Published: 23:25 IST(21/10/2013) | Last Updated: 01:20 IST(22/10/2013)

Security officials in Delhi are not overly concerned with MV Seaman Guard Ohio entering Indian territorial waters with large quantities of arms and ammunition.

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“The vessel was part of an anti-pirate operation. Many shipping companies hire private patrols to secure their vessels against Somalian pirates,” a senior home ministry official said.

The mistake Ohio made was to try and source fuel illegally, said the official.

Running out of fuel, they tried to source it through the state government but were told to contact the ministry of shipping in Delhi, as per the rule for vessels 30, or more, years old. Instead, they paid locals to procure fuel for them and got caught in the bargain.

The sailors also could not explain why they did not refuel at Sharjah, their last port of call.

On Sunday, police detained five persons from Tuticorin for supplying 1,500 litres of diesel to the ship and searched for a Keralite who gave them Rs. 5 lakh to supply the fuel.

Owned by Washington-based maritime security provider Advanfort, Ohio was detained off Tuticorin port on October 12, followed by Friday’s arrest of its 35 crew and security members.

The owner, Washington-based maritime security provider Advanfort, claimed the ship entered Indian waters to escape the fury of Cyclone Phailin. But the cyclone hit Odisha and Andhra Pradesh that are far from Tuticorin. It is also not known what the ship was doing in the Bay of Bengal instead of the Indian Ocean, for nearly a month.

Meanwhile, two officials of the British deputy high commission met the six Britons in jail on Monday after the external affairs ministry granted them access, said a spokesperson of the British deputy high commission.

She, however, did not elaborate on the next steps of the commission on the matter. A spokesperson of the US Consulate General in Chennai clarified that none of its officials had visited the prison as there was no US national on the ship.

Suicide attempt

Chennai: There were reports that one of the jailed sailors tried to hang himself with a rope, but was saved by a CISF personnel.

The jail authorities, however, denied that there was any suicide attempt, but said senior engineer Sidoreno Valerity was depressed and talking to himself. “We have asked his colleagues to keep an eye on him and talk to him and sooth his nerves,” a prison official said.


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