New Delhi: An Indian naval maritime reconnaissance aircraft successfully thwarted an attack by Somali pirates on a Chinese cargo ship with 24 crew members on board in the Arabian Sea. The Indian Navy Tu-142 maritime recce plane's persistent aggressive posturing forced the brigands to abandon the hijack attempt and flee, an officer said on Friday.
The IN Tu-142 escorted the helpless Chinese merchantman for a long period of four hours before NATO and other warships in the vicinity arrived on the scene to help it out. Thereupon the IN Tupolev aircraft headed back to base.
The Chinese-owned bulk carrier, MV Full City, came under siege from the pirates at 8.45am on Thursday about 450 nautical miles (850 km) west of Karwar in Karnataka.
Following procedure the entire Chinese crew locked themselves up in the merchant vessel's safe house, preventing their capture by the pirates, and sent out an emergency message.
On receiving the distress call, the navy's TU-142 maritime reconnaissance aircraft flew to the spot in 30 minutes and carried out several low passes over the merchant vessel, warning the pirates to abandon their attempt to hijack the Panama-flagged vessel.
With the aircraft crew warning the pirates over radio that Indian and NATO Task Force warships were closing in on MV Full City to carry out an operation, the brigands abandoned the vessel, boarded a skiff and rushed to a pirate mother vessel nearby, which fled from the site at full speed, the officer said.