Strongly defending the sinking of a Thai fishing trawler in Gulf of Aden a fortnight ago, Navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta on Tuesday said the Indian warship was within law and had done nothing wrong by striking at a pirated ship in self defence.
"I want to set the record straight, there is nothing that the navy has done wrong. And it is perfectly within law. Even if the ship had been pirated just at that morning," Mehta told reporters here.
He said INS Tabar, a stealth guided missile frigate, had been in anti-piracy patrol for over a month now and it had done a commendable work.
However, he expressed unhappiness over the claims of a Thai fishing company, and said the ship had been pirated and was put to use by the Somali sea brigands for activities that was against the laws of the seas.
"The fact remains that the Thai trawler was a pirated trawler. For all practical purposes and all rules of engagement the world over is that if they fire at men of war, we jolly well retaliate," Mehta said.
He asserted that further investigation had clearly revealed that the fishing trawler was used in the Gulf of Aden for a very long time for activities it should not have been doing.
Questioning the motives of the fishing trawler, the Navy chief said the ship had stocked large quantities of ammunition that led to it breaking into a huge, bright fireball after the Indian Navy warship fired at it.
Mehta said India favoured to work under the UN flag in anti-piracy operations and had contacted other countries' navies and other groups of warships operating in the Gulf of Aden for a coordinated effort against the pirates, who were threatening peaceful trade through the sea lanes there.
He said India was pursuing the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) it launched with littoral navies of the region.
He said a construct was already in place and IONS was looking at getting all the navies in the region for a concerted anti-piracy operation.
Stating that the Indian Navy had several bilateral exercises with navies of US, Russia, France, Britain, Singapore and Oman, Mehta said there was further scope for bilateral and multilateral exercises with navies through the IONS arrangement.
However, the Navy was now focusing on making most of these bilateral exercises with other navies into multilateral exercises, just as the Indo-US Malabar exercise was in 2007, he added.