In a swift operation, the Indian Coast Guard has detained a Sierra Leone-flagged vessel with 25 armed guards on board, at Tuticorin. The vessel, ‘Seaman Guard Ohio’ is owned by US-based maritime security firm AdvanFort, but those on board were unable to explain why they had entered Indian waters, reports ‘The Hindu’.
‘The Hindu’ cites Inspector-General and Commander Coast Guard (Region East) Satya Prakash Sharm as stating that the operations centre received information late on Friday that a vessel with armed guards on board was seen near the Tuticorin coast. After putting the vessel under electronic surveillance, Indian Coast Guard Ship ‘Naiki Devi’ intercepted and escorted it to the Tuticorin Port on Saturday.
The guards/crew comprising British, Estonian, Ukranian and Indian nationals were interrogated by a multi-agency joint investigation team at Tuticorin. The authorisation for possessing weapons on board was yet to be produced by them.
According to defence sources, quoted by the newspaper, the crew members claimed that they were involved in providing security to Gulf-bound merchant vessels, and that they were authorised to carry arms.
Source: ‘The Hindu’