Indian Navy Wastes No Time With Pirates, Sends In Stealth-Guided Missile Destroyer

The Indian Navy wasted no time when a report said a ship bearing the Liberian flag with 15 Indians aboard was hijacked by pirates off the coast of Somalia in the North Arabian Sea, sending a stealth-guided missile destroyer to deal with the situation.

The hijackers apparently fled before the destroyer INS Chennai showed up to deal with the MV Lila Norfolk. The Indian Navy reported that all 21 members of the crew, which included 15 Indians, were safely evacuated and the hijackers were no longer there, commenting, “The attempt of hijacking by the pirates was probably abandoned with the forceful warning by the #IndianNavy MPA of interception by Indian Naval warship.  #INSChennai is in the vicinity of MV and rendering support to restore the power generation & propulsion, and commence her voyage to next port of call.”

The Indian Navy said the INS Chennai had the Norfolk under constant surveillance “using MPA, Predator MQ9B & integral helos.”

Attempted hijacking of ships in the Middle East has been increasing in recent weeks; at the end of December, U.S. Navy helicopters destroyed three Iranian-backed Houthi small boats that had been attacking a merchant ship in the Red Sea, according to the Pentagon.

At 6:30 a.m. local time on December 31, the Maersk Hangzhou, identified as a Singapore-flagged and Denmark-owned and operated container vessel, issued its second distress call in less than 24 hours — this time regarding four Iranian-backed Houthi small boats, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) said in a post to X.

The boats, which CENTCOM said were small and originated from Houthi-controlled areas in Yemen, fired crew-served and small-arms weapons at the Maersk Hangzhou, getting to within 20 meters of the vessel, and attempted to board the merchant ship while contract-embarked security team on the Maersk Hangzhou returned fire.

U.S. helicopters from the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower aircraft carrier and USS Gravely guided-missile destroyer responded to the distress call, according to CENTCOM, and in the process of issuing verbal calls to the Houthi boats, the aggressors fired upon the U.S. aircraft with crew-served weapons and small arms.

The U.S. Navy helicopters returned fire in self-defense, sinking three of the four small boats and killing the crews, said CENTCOM, which also noted that the fourth boat fled the area and emphasized there was no damage to U.S. personnel or equipment.

Daniel Chaitin contributed to this article.

Related: U.S. Forces Sink Houthi Boats In Red Sea, Pentagon Says

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