She put an end to three months of embezzlement. The Indian Navy announced on Saturday March 16 that it had recaptured the ship MV Ruen, a Maltese-flagged bulk carrier, from Somali pirates off the Indian coast, thus freeing the crew. This attack, carried out on December 14 380 nautical miles (700 km) east of the Yemeni island of Socotra, was the first successful hijacking by Somali pirates since that of the tanker Aris 13 in 2017, itself unprecedented since 2012.

“Indian Navy thwarts Somali pirates’ plans to hijack boats sailing in the region by intercepting ex-MV Ruen,” the Indian Navy wrote on X on Saturday evening. An Indian warship, the Kolkata, “in the last 40 hours, through concerted actions, cornered and forced the 35 pirates to surrender,” added the navy, specifying that it had carried out “the safe evacuation of the 17 crew members in the evening (…) from the pirate ship, without any injuries”.

Indian forces first intercepted the MV Ruen on Friday, according to the same source. The pirates then opened fire on the Kolkata, which responded “with the minimum force necessary to neutralize the pirate threat.”

None of the crew members were injured during the operation, which was carried out in coordination with other military ships, helicopters and other aircraft, according to the Indian Navy. The MV Ruen was recaptured some 1,400 nautical miles, or 2,600 km, from the Indian coast, the same source said.

Intensification of actions against piracy

The Indian Navy had been monitoring the MV Ruen since its capture by pirates. At the time, the latter had released an injured sailor and handed him over to the Indian navy. They then took the ship and its 17 remaining crew members to the semi-autonomous Somali state of Puntland, where they anchored in the town of Bosaso.

The Indian army has intensified its actions against piracy in recent months after an increase in maritime attacks, notably in the Arabian Sea and the Red Sea by Yemeni Houthi rebels, supported by Iran.

Pirate attacks off the coast of Somalia peaked in 2011, with attacks carried out up to 3,655 km from the coast in the middle of the Indian Ocean, before dropping drastically in recent years. But the hijacking of the MV Ruen followed an outbreak of attacks around the Horn of Africa not seen in years.

Since mid-November, Yemeni Houthi rebels have been carrying out attacks in this area on ships linked to Israel, citing retaliation for its war against Hamas in Gaza after the October 7 attack.