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Indian Navy: Will take affirmative action to ensure safer Indian Ocean Region: Navy chief on anti-piracy ops

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New Delhi: Indian Navy will take “affirmative action” to ensure a safer and more secure Indian Ocean Region, its chief Admiral R Hari Kumar said on Saturday while citing the anti-piracy operations undertaken by the naval force in the last 100 days. In response to a query during a press conference at the newly-built Nausena Bhawan, he said “no Indian-flagged vessel” has been targeted by the Houthis at sea.

Earlier in the day, INS Kolkata, carrying 35 pirates who were apprehended in a recent operation off the coast of Somalia, reached Mumbai, the Navy said. These pirates were handed over to the Mumbai police for further legal action under Indian laws, specifically the Maritime Anti-Piracy Act, 2022.

The Navy chief cited the dramatic mid-sea operation undertaken by the Navy along with the IAF that ended a three-month hijacking of a bulk carrier with the deployment of its warship INS Kolkata, long-endurance Sea Guardian drones, P-8I surveillance aircraft and airdropping of elite MARCOS commandos from a C-17 plane.

The Navy seized the former Maltese-flagged vessel, rescued 17 hostages and captured 35 armed pirates in the nearly 40-hour operation around 2,600 km from the Indian coast that experts say was the first such successful takeover of a cargo ship from the Somali pirates in the last around seven years.

In the last 10 years, this was the largest operation in which the Indian Navy caught 35 pirates, the Navy chief said.

Admiral Kumar also said the Maritime Anti-Piracy Act, 2022, has been a “great enabler” for security forces, especially the Indian Navy which involved is in anti-piracy operations. He had recently said the Navy has got a shot in the arm because of this legislation and underlined the deployment to counter-piracy attempts. Asked if this has elevated the image of the Indian Navy as the first responder, Admiral Kumar said, “Bharat is on the trajectory to becoming a great power.” With “great power, comes great responsibility”, he said, while asserting that the “Indian Navy is determined to protect, preserve, promote and pursue our national interests in maritime domain”.

Asked how long these operations will continue, Admiral Kumar replied, till the Indian Ocean is safe and secure. “Indian Navy will take affirmative action to ensure safer, more secure Indian Ocean Region.”

So, whether it is Indian nationals or vessels, “we will ensure their protection”, the Navy chief said.

“We are the largest resident naval power in the Indian Ocean. Indian Navy’s responsibility is to ensure the Indian Ocean Region remains safe, secure, and stable and we will ensure that it is free, open, inclusive, and rules-based order is maintained,” he added.

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