October 17, 2008 11:04:24 pm
In a bold move, India on Thursday gave a go-ahead for an Indian Naval warship — carrying helicopters and marine commandos — to begin patrolling the Gulf of Aden even as the Japanese ship carrying 18 Indians was not released by Somalian pirates.
This comes almost a month after the Navy had sought to be authorised to take necessary steps, including right of hot pursuit and use of force against pirates. The government had then denied permission.
The pirates had issued an ultimatum of 48 hours on Tuesday to pay a ransom of $ 2.5 million to free the 18 Indian sailors onboard the Stolt Valor.
Though the “operational details” were kept under wraps, sources said naval warships – which are in the vicinity of the patrolling route between Salalah (Oman) and Aden (Yemen) – are being sent for patrolling.“The warship will have carrier helicopters, boats and endurance to stay in water for a long period of time as it is being sent more than 500 nautical miles away,” a Navy official said. The warship will coordinate the patrol with French and US warships, already present in the region.
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The Defence ministry, in an official statement said, “This anti-piracy patrol will be carried out in coordination with Directorate General Shipping Shipping, who will keep Indian Flagship vessels informed in case they want to travel in Indian Ocean along with Indian Navy ship. The patrolling is commencing immediately.”
Patrolling in the area will be significant as Gulf of Aden is a strategic point in the Indian Ocean and provides access to the Suez Canal through which a sizeable portion of India’s trade flows.
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