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MSC Aries seizure: Foreign-flag ship was headed for Indian port through Strait of Hormuz, says Admiral Hari Kumar

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Chief of Naval Staff Admiral R Hari Kumar on Sunday said the vessel with a foreign flag and 17 Indians on board was headed for one of the Indian ports after clearing the Strait of Hormuz when troops came in helicopters and boarded it.

Speaking to reporters at INS Hansa at Vasco in Goa, Admiral Kumar said it was a foreign-flagged flag.

Notably, the Israeli-linked cargo ship β€˜MSC Aries’ with 17 Indians on board was seized by the Iranian military near the Strait of Hormuz on Saturday amid increasing tensions between Iran and Israel.

“We don’t have any update now. The vessel (MSC Aries) was coming out of the Strait of Hormuz and heading for one of the Indian ports. It is a vessel with a foreign flag with 17 Indians on board,” the Naval chief said when queried on any update on the seized ship.

“They had cleared the Strait of Hormuz and coming south when those helicopters came with troops and boarded it. What we understood is that it is a foreign flag company. We don’t have any more information,” Admiral Kumar said.

He visited the INS Hansa Naval base to present gallantry and distinguished service medals during the Naval Investiture ceremony held on behalf of the President.Responding to a query of reporters, the Admiral described as “fragile” the situation in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden and said the Indian Navy has kept the area under surveillance.”Indian Navy is operating between the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden where more than 90 attacks have taken place in that region. We have been trying to help out mariners who are in that region. We are watching the situation, we have units deployed,” the Naval chief said.

He said the Indian Navy is closely monitoring the situation in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, and keeping the region under surveillance.

When asked about the crisis between Israel and Iran, Admiral Kumar said it is the job of the Indian Navy to operate in any situation.

“The situation in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden is fragile. We saw the drone attack on a merchant ship and when that sort of disturbance started, we saw the resurfacing of piracy,” the Chief of Naval Staff said.

Admiral Kumar also said piracy has “died down quite a bit”.

“The lesson to be kept in mind is that whenever there is a disorder that is happening in one part, people are waiting for an opportunity to create more disturbance and (secure) benefit from it,” he added.

Admiral Kumar further said the stand of the Bharatiya Nausena is very clear. “The Indian Ocean is our area and we will take whatever action is required to keep it safe and secured.”

“The job of any Navy is to ensure that (passage of) merchant vessels (is safe) and trade unhindered. We are committed to doing our job,” he said.

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