Indian Navy Commandos Successfully Recapture Ship from Somali Pirates After 40-Hour-Long Operation

Photo Credit: Indian Navy / Press Release
Photo Credit: Indian Navy / Press Release

Indian Navy Commandos took control of a pirate ship in the Arabian Sea after a dramatic 40-hour-long operation on March 16, 2024. The mission, performed by the service’s Marine Commandos (MARCOS) forces, aimed at securing a bulk carrier that had been hijacked off the Somali coast the previous December.

MARCOS operators parachuting from a Boeing C-17 Globemaster III
Photo Credit: Indian Navy / Press Release

The MV Ruen, a Bulgarian-owned and Maltese-flagged merchant ship, and her crew of 18 were hijacked by Somali pirates on December 14, 2023, with the assailants escaping Japanese, Spanish and Indian warships by moving into Somalia’s territorial waters. A single crewman was injured in the incident, with the person evacuated by the Kolkata-class stealth guided-missile destroyer INS Kochi (D64).

The Indian Navy had kept track of Ruen over the last three months as the pirates, with the remaining 17 crewmen still onboard, used the merchant ship to conduct additional assaults in the Indian Ocean, from their base off the coast of Eyl. According to the Financial Times, the vessel may have been used to hijack the Bangladesh-flagged MV Abdullah last week.

Helicopter hovering over the MV Ruen at sea
Photo Credit: Indian Navy / Press Release

The operation to recapture Ruen began on March 15, 2024. The destroyer INS Kolkata (D63) was ordered to intercept the rogue ship, which was approximately 260 nautical miles east of Somalia. Using a drone, the Indian forces were able to confirm that 35 enemy assailants were aboard the vessel. The pirates then shot down the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).

Kolkata‘s crew subsequently “disabled the ship’s steering system and navigational aids, forcing the Pirate Ship to stop.”

The Indian Navy then deployed a Boeing P-8I Poseidon Neptune, High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE RPA) drones and the Sukanya-class patrol vessel INS Subhadra (P51) to keep an eye on the vessel, while a Boeing C-17 Globemaster III dropped a eight-man Commando team and two airborne assault boats into the sea, next to Ruen.

The sight was enough to convince the pirates to surrender, without any injuries sustained on either side. Ruen was subsequently checked for illegal contraband, illegal weapons and ammunition, with the Indian Navy reporting 37,800 tons of cargo, valued at around $1 million, was safely brought to India.

Helicopter hovering over the MV Ruen, while assault boats float near the bulk carrier
Photo Credit: Indian Navy / Press Release

In a statement, the Indian Navy said, “The culmination of the ongoing Anti-Piracy operation involving pirate ship Ruen in the Southern IOR highlights the commitment of the Indian Navy towards reinforcing peace and stability, and also to thwart the resurgence of Piracy in the region. The Indian Navy remains steadfast in performing its role as the ‘First Responder’ in IOR.”

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The intense operation is the second-such mission the Indian Navy has undertaken this year, with MARCOS operators recapturing the hijacked MV Lila Norfolk and rescuing her 21-man crew this past January. India has deployed around 12 warships to the area east of the Red Sea to defend against piracy while the West focuses its efforts on combating Yemen’s Houthi rebels.

Clare Fitzgerald

Clare Fitzgerald is a Writer and Editor with eight years of experience in the online content sphere. Graduating with a Bachelor of Arts from King’s University College at Western University, her portfolio includes coverage of digital media, current affairs, history and true crime.

Among her accomplishments are being the Founder of the true crime blog, Stories of the Unsolved, which garners between 400,000 and 500,000 views annually, and a contributor for John Lordan’s Seriously Mysterious podcast. Prior to its hiatus, she also served as the Head of Content for UK YouTube publication, TenEighty Magazine.

In her spare time, Clare likes to play Pokemon GO and re-watch Heartland over and over (and over) again. She’ll also rave about her three Maltese dogs whenever she gets the chance.

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