In a first-ever joint operation of its kind, the Indian and French navies on Wednesday rescued a merchant vessel with 14 Indian sailors on board.
MV Nafeya was hijacked off Boosaaso near Puntland — a semi-autonomous region in the northeast of Somalia.
At around 11 am on July 10, seven pirates armed with rocket-propelled grenade launchers and AK-47s hijacked the ship that was registered at Porbandar in Gujarat and was operating from the United Arab Emirates. The vessel was returning to Dubai after delivering cargo at the Somali port.
After hijacking MV Nafeya, the pirates forced it to move towards Bab-el-Mandeb. They tried to hijack another ship, MV A Elephant, a Liberian tanker, on July 13. But a French warship belonging to the European Union Naval Force thwarted the hijack bid.
“The French warship then effectively shadowed MV Nafeya and put into operation the well-practiced operating procedures with an Indian naval ship on anti-piracy patrol.
Warships of both the navies continuously tracked the hijacked vessel. Soldiers even tried to board the vessel, but abandoned the plan when pirates threatened to kill the hostages,” said Indian Navy Chief Public Relations Officer (Defence) Manohar Nambiar.
Seeing movements of the Indian and French warships, and anticipating a combined operation, the pirates forced the vessel close to the Somali coast.
The pirates then robbed the crew of all their cash and valuables and escaped in their skiffs.
The crew later contacted the Indian naval ship and all the 14 sailors were rescued.