An Indian Navy warship on Monday rescued an Iranian-flagged fishing vessel, with 17 crew members on board, from Somalian hijackers off the Gulf of Aden, triggering concerns that pirate attacks are growing in the Indian Ocean Region at a time when Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels are also targeting ships to take revenge for Israel’s war with Hamas.

INS Sumitra, on an anti-piracy operation along the East coast of Somalia and the Gulf of Aden, responded to a distress message last night regarding the hijacking of an Iranian-flagged fishing vessel (FV) Iman after pirates landed at the ship and took the crew hostage, the Navy spokesperson Commander Vivek Madhwal stated.

“INS Sumitra intercepted the vessel, acted in accordance with the established SOPs (standard operating procedures) to coerce the pirates for the safe release of the crew along with the boat and ensured the successful release of all 17 crew members along with the boat,” Madhwal naratted.

The FV was subsequently sanitised and released for onward transit. “Mission deployed Indian naval ships on anti-piracy and maritime security operations in the Indian Ocean region symbolises the Indian Navy’s resolve towards the safety of all vessels and seafarers at sea,” Madhwal remarked.

The Navy has been responding regularly to such incidents as has biggest-ever deployment of naval ships and surveillance aircraft and UAVs to secure maritime routes in the northern and central Arabian Sea for commercial traffic coming to Asia from Europe. Two days ago, INS Visakhapatnam warship extinguished a fire onboard a commercial oil tanker with 22 Indian crew when the vessel was struck by a missile in the Gulf of Aden.

According to the US Central Command (CENTCOM), the Marshall Islands-flagged vessel MV Marlin Luanda was targeted by an anti-ship ballistic missile fired by Iran-backed Houthi militants.