‘Danish ship loaded with Kalashnikovs’ | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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‘Danish ship loaded with Kalashnikovs’

Crucial information has been revealed by two ex SAS (Special Air Service) commandos, deployed on board the Denmark flagged ship Danica Sunrise, which was detained by the Indian Navy and Coast Guard on April 17, on suspicion of landing arms in Indian waters.

mumbai Updated: Apr 30, 2011 02:01 IST
Debasish Panigrahi

Crucial information has been revealed by two ex SAS (Special Air Service) commandos, deployed on board the Denmark flagged ship Danica Sunrise, which was detained by the Indian Navy and Coast Guard on April 17, on suspicion of landing arms in Indian waters.

The statements of Christopher and Steven, the two British ex-SAS commandos, along with that of the remaining six crew members of the ship, including her Danish master, have been submitted to the state home department.

Quoting the report, highly placed sources in the home department told the Hindustan Times on Friday that the ex-SAS commandos were not only armed with Kalashnikovs during their voyage in the Indian Ocean, but also possessed two (Mouser) sniper rifles, having an effective range of around 1.5km. The long-range weapons were kept to ward off pirate attacks.

“The pirates mostly use small boats to reach up to and ambush merchant vessels. So long range weapons are effective in stalling them and in sending a signal about the presence of heavily armed personnel on board the ship,” sources said, while quoting the report.

However, the weapons were dumped into the sea when the ship entered the Indian waters, to repair its faulty air conditioner, despite the fact that the Indian law prohibits carrying of firearms in merchant vessels.

Sources said all the (authorised) weapons on Danica Sunrise had been purchased from Aden in Yemen, before the ship set sail into the Indian Ocean.

“At present, it has become a regular practice for shipping companies to deploy armed ex-SAS commandos on board their vessels whenever they set sail from the African Coasts towards the Indian coast, anticipating imminent pirate attacks,” sources said.

Cashing in on the demand, the ex-SAS commandos have formed groups (of four each) and are paid handsomely for providing protection to merchant ships sailing towards the Indian coast in the Indian Ocean, which has earned the reputation of being the worst pirate zone across the globe.

Every group is paid around £1,000 per day, till the ship reaches the Indian waters.

A merchant vessel usually takes seven to eight days to reach the Indian coast from the east African coast. Danica Sunrise owners had however, hired only the two ex-SAS escorts.