Ship sunk by Indian navy was a fishing boat, says owner

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The INS Tabar.
Image: Nichalp.

A man has come forward to say he is the owner of a Thai ship that was being hijacked by pirates then sunk by the Indian navy. The incident took place in the Gulf of Aden, off the coast of the African nation of Somalia on November 18. The owner, Wicharn Sirichaiekawat, says that the boat was a fishing trawler, but the pirates had just got on board the vessel when it was fired upon.

The Indian Navy had claimed that the INS Tabar attacked the vessel because they believed it to be a "pirate mother ship". They also said that the ship was preparing to attack their vessel, despite the sending of a warning message.

"We fired in self-defense and in response to firing upon our vessel," said Commodore Nirad Sinhatold of the Indian Navy to CNN. The Navy also claimed the pirates had "guns and rocket-propelled grenade launchers".

We fired in self-defense and in response to firing upon our vessel.

—Commodore Nirad Sinhatold, Indian Navy

Although the crew was able to send out a distress call while they were being chased, communication had been cut off shortly before the pirates boarded. Sixteen people were on board the vessel when it was sunk. At least one person has died, and after six days of searching, only one survivor was found. Fourteen are still missing.

The trawler was transporting fishing goods from Yemen to Oman when it was hijacked off Somalia's coast. It has been added to the list over over 90 ships seized or hijacked by pirates in the region this year.