November 21, 2008 1:40:24 am
After launching a successful strike against pirates in the Gulf of Aden, the Navy is set to augment its forces in the region by deploying more warships and aircraft. The Navy has also been granted the right of ‘hot pursuit’ to take on pirate vessels in Somali waters.
“We have got the right to pursue pirates into territorial waters of Somalia in certain circumstances. The permission has been given by the Defence Ministry,” a senior Navy officer said.
The Navy has sent INS Mysore, a Delhi class destroyer, to assist the stealth frigate INS Tabar in the pirate-infested waters. The Shipping Ministry has asked for four warships to guard Indian merchant vessels along the crucial sea route.
A day after Tabar destroyed a pirate ‘mother vessel’ in international waters south-west of Oman, the Navy said it is actively considering to augment its presence in the area for anti-piracy operations and is looking at several proposals, including joint operations with friendly countries.
Sources said INS Mysore set out on Sunday and will carry out joint patrols with the INS Tabar before eventually replacing the warship in the Gulf of Aden. India is also seeking final permission to deploy a Dornier reconnaissance aircraft at a nearby location, most likely the French-controlled Djibouti airbase.
“We know that one ship has had some successes but it is not the answer. We are considering a proposal to increase the number of warships in the Gulf of Aden,” the official said, confirming that several proposals are being considered by the government.
The authority to take on pirates in Somali waters is being seen as a major step forward that will enable the Navy to protect Indian vessels more effectively. While the earlier mandate was to “protect our sea-borne trade, instill confidence in our sea-faring community as well as function as a deterrent for pirates”, the right to hot pursuit has been given for exceptional circumstances that require entering Somali waters.
The Navy has acknowledged that it would be impossible for a single nation to take on pirates operating in the region and has said that India would be looking at an international effort, under the UN banner, to protect merchant traffic on the crucial trade route.
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