A proposal moved by the Navy a few weeks ago — which has been renewed after the recent incident involving 18 Indian sailors on board the hijacked MT Stolt Valor — asks for authorisation to tackle piracy at high seas to protect Indian citizens.
Sources said the proposal requests that the Chief of Navy Staff be given direct authority to sanction action against pirates in the high seas. The Navy has also requested clearance to draw up guideline — specifying the force and method needed — to tackle piracy.
With India increasing the number of patrols in the neighborhood over the past few years as part of a plan of national projection, naval warships are usually deployed in pirate infested areas like the Somalia coast and the Horn of Africa at any given time.
“Somalia has already given clearance to foreign warships to enter its territorial waters to tackle piracy. The Navy has asked for the authority to act on any intelligence inputs about piracy and take means necessary to protect Indian ships,” a senior official said.
While the proposal has been floated after a recent spate in piracy incidents involving Indian sailors, the Navy has always been keen on taking action against miscreants in the high seas.
Meanwhile, all 18 Indians among the 22 crew members on board Mumbai-bound MT Stolt Valor hijacked and taken to Somalia are safe, according to the chief of the company owning the vessel. Fredi Stolzenberg, chief of Stolt Shipping, said no ransom demand had yet been made. The crew also included a Russian, two Filipinos and one Bangladeshi.
The chemical tanker ‘Stolt Valor’, bearing a Hong Kong flag and carrying over 23,000 tonnes of Oil products, was reported to have been hijacked in the Gulf of Aden on Tuesday, according to officials in the Directorate General of Shipping in Mumbai.