Armed US ship detained in Tamil Nadu under investigation: MEA

New Delhi, Oct. 14 (ANI): The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Monday disclosed that the Centre was taking a serious stance on the suspicious movement of an American ship, which was earlier detained in Tamil Nadu for carrying arms, and said that the matter is presently being investigated.

"The matter is being investigated. Upon completion the authorities will provide us the report," MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said.

Meanwhile, Deputy National Security Advisor Nehchal Sandhu on Monday said that he felt that the detained American ship could be a 'mother ship' which was responsible for the transfer of arms and security personnel to other ships, who depend upon them to protect civil shipping against pirates.

"My suspicion is that the boat that has come in at Tuticorin is one of those mother ships, which has a number of security personnel and a number of weapons onboard. The law will take its course. You know how the law applies," Sandhu said.

"We don't know on what mandate they got these weapons or had these weapons onboard. Therefore, it remains unclear," he added.

Explaining the role of mother ships, Sandhu said that because the highest area for piracy has been extended from 65 degrees east to 78 degrees east, which runs along India's southern borders, civil shipping (and) maritime operations in the area tend to employ Private Maritime Security Companies.

"These people have armed people onboard to protect civil shipping against pirates. Now, these people who provide the security move from ship to ship and they have to depend on mother ships for those transfers for the safe retention of weapons and so on," he explained.

Earlier, the Home Ministry reportedly asked the Tamil Nadu government to probe into the case and submit a report to the Centre on the purpose of the armed American ship treading into Indian waters.

The detained vessel has been identified as M.V. Seaman Guard Ohio and was intercepted and detained by the Indian Coast Guard about 15 nautical miles east of Tuticorin on Saturday.

Additionally, FIRs have been reportedly registered against 10 crew members and 25 guards of the detained ship by the Tamil Nadu Marine Police for illegally carrying arms and ammunition.

According to media reports, a case under the Essential Commodities Act has also been registered against the crewmembers for buying 1,500 litres of diesel illegally with the help of a Tamil Nadu-based shipping agent.

Media reports also claim that the detained vessel had 10 crewmembers, comprising of two Ukranians and eight Indians. The vessel also has 25 security guards, of which six are British, fourteen are Estonian, one Ukranian and four are Indians. (ANI)

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