The Indian Coast Guard rescued six fishermen on board a Yemeni fishing boat which was found drifting off Mangrol coast. The boat was towed to Porbandar and providing medical aid to its crew. Defence officials said that the boat had set sail from Yemen more than a month ago but has been drifting at sea after an engine failure, and winds brought it near the Gujarat coast.
Officials said that a Coast Guard Dornier sighted the boat a few nautical miles off Mangrol coast in Junagadh at 12.15 pm on Monday, when the aircraft was on a routine maritime reconnaissance sortie. “The crew of the boat were observed on weather deck waving for assistance. A fishing ban is imposed on West coast of India and the appearance (structure/colour) of the boat was not commensurate with the features of boats from Gujarat. Further, the boat had its name inscribed in Urdu in its Foxel (front) side. The Dornier tried to establish communication with the distressed boat without any success,” a statement from the Army said.
Subsequently, the matter was reported to the Coast Guard operations centre at Porbandar. Indian Coast Guard ship Samudra Parahari, which was patrolling in those waters, was diverted towards the boat for “rendering assistance.” An ICG aircraft was also kept on stand by at Porbandar. Eventually, Samudra Prahari intercepted the boat and Coast Guard sailors boarded the boat at 4.30 pm on Monday.
“The distressed boat was identified as as “AL Bome Marize” which reportedly departed Yemen on 05 June 2017. The boat subsequently encountered a technical snag on 06 June 2017 and remained adrift since then… The six crew on board (03 Yemenees (sic), 01 Somalian and 02 Tanzanian) were in a dehydrated condition and were unable to clearly communicate. Communication set of the boat was non-operational and the battery of the 02 hand-held GPS held with the boat had drained out rendering them completely helpless in the open sea,” the release further said.
The Coast Guard seized some documents from the boat, including a crew list issued by the Yemeni fisheries department and one Somalian seaman’s logbook.
The Coast Guard said passing merchant vessels denied assistance to the fishermen, fearing they could be pirates. “The Merchant Vessels encountered en-route denied assistance to the boat suspecting them to be pirates. Due to South West monsoon condition with aiding sea conditions, the boat drifted towards Indian Coast. Indian Coast Guard Ship Samudra Prahari on arriving in the area provided the distressed crew of the boat with water,food and necessary medial assitance. The crew were stablised and thereafter the boat was towed to Porbandar for joint interrogation by security agencies to rule oput nefarios intent,” added the release.
Sources said that the boat was brought to Coast Guard jetty in Porbandar at around 9 pm on Monday. Officers said that the crew will be interrogated by multiple agencies and the boat will be thoroughly searched after obtaining a clearance from the customs officers in Porbandar.