Eighteen Indians are among 22 crew aboard a Mumbai-bound ship that was hijacked by Somali pirates in the Gulf of Eden near the Horn of Africa on Monday.
The Hong-Kong registered MT Stolt Valor was bound for Mumbai from the Suez Canal with a load of oil products when armed pirates seized it about 38 nautical miles off the coast of Yemen.
The pirates have taken the ship to Somalia but no demands have yet been made. The crew is reported to be safe.
The Indians aboard the Stolt Valor are mostly from Mumbai. The other crew includes two Filipinos, a Bangladeshi and a Russian.
The last hijacking involving Indians was in May when Somalian pirates grabbed the MV Victoria.
Pirates commonly seize ships in these waters, now considered the most dangerous in the world. Two days ago, French commandos and a destroyer were involved in a successful operation to retake a hijacked ship.
The latest sea crime comes weeks after the Indian Navy asked the Ministry of Defence permission to use “calculated force” to respond to sea pirates. The Navy has argued that a carte blanche will allow quick emergency responses.
The Piracy Reporting Centre of the International Maritime Board last week advised all vessels sailing through the Gulf of Aden to keep their radars switched on 24 hours, maintain shipboard anti-piracy watches and scan the seas for small craft converging on them.