Guts and Glory

ins_tabar Kudos to INS Tabar (“Battle axe” in Sanskrit) for warding off Somali pirates attempting to take two merchant vessels in the Gulf of Aden.  Tabar is one of three Talwar-class frigates, based on the Russian Krivak III design.  Her motto is, fittingly, “Guts and Glory”.  The Indian frigate received distress calls from Saudi oil carrier NCC Tihama, and Indian bulk carrier Jag Arnav, and successfully defended them both with small arms fire from its Chetak ASW helicopter.

INS Tabar, a Talwar-class guided-missile stealth frigate, was cruising in the Gulf of Aden at about 10 am when it got a frantic distress call from Saudi Arabian chemical and oil carrier NCC Tihama.

Tihamas call said two to three high-speed boats, with several armed men, were trying to hijack the ship which was headed westwards. An armed Chetak helicopter, with four marine commandos, was immediately launched from INS Tabar, said a senior Navy officer.

Even as the Chetak hovered over Tihama, the marine commandos opened fire with their automatic weapons at the pirates trying to board the Saudi tankship after surrounding it. Deterred by the fire, the pirates promptly turned tail and fled in their speedboats into Somali waters.

It was around this time 10.30 am or so when the Chetak was still in the air, that INS Tabar received another SOS call. This time, the message was that Indian merchant vessel Jag Arnav — which is owned by the Mumbai-based Great Eastern Company and was eastward bound after transiting through the Suez Canal a few days earlier — was being ambushed by another band of pirates in two boats about 60 nautical miles east of Aden.

The Chetak was then diverted towards Jag Arnav‘s position, about 25 nautical miles away from INS Tabar’s location, with instructions to Tihama to follow the Indian frigate for safety.

There was no need to fire even warning shots this time. Seeing the helicopter approach Jag Arnav, which had a 25-member crew, the pirates promptly jettisoned their hijack plans and sped away, said the officer.

— Rajat Pandit.  “Commandos answer SOS from Saudi, Indian vessels, scare off pirates“, Times of India, November 11th, 2008.

Wonder of wonders, India appears to be blessed with a senior staff that actually understands the purpose and role of a navy, too.

Lauding the near-simultaneous operations carried out by his force, Navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta said, Piracy is a crime which all men of war are required to combat at all times.

[emphasis mine]

Unless they are men of war from NATO or the UN, in which case they have their hands tied by the morally myopic back home.  All the legal angles have to be thought of first, like who has jurisdiction? How will the pirates be arraigned and tried?  How can we best accomodate their ancient scavenging seafarer culture traditions in the framework of modern justice?  What is the thread count in the blankets provided to said pirates while incarcerated?  How many conjugal visits do they get?  And most importantly, how can we get them back home without actually punishing them?

Don’t think the residents of eastern Africa haven’t noticed our inability to deal with this piracy.  They have.  Some in the normally somnambulent Western media have noticed, too.

Thank God for Admiral Mehta and the Indian navy, who appear to understand that our entire post-Enlightenment economic system depends heavily on safe and regular worldwide trade, and has for the past few hundred years.

The navy has been conducting “anti-piracy patrols” in the Gulf of Aden since 23 October, because a “sizeable portion of our country’s trade” flows through it, the navy statement said.

“There has been a quantum increase in the number of piracy attacks in this region over the last few months.

“These patrols are carried out in co-ordination with the Ministry of Shipping and are intended to protect Indian merchant vessels from being attacked by pirates and also to instil confidence in our large seafaring community.

BBC News, “India navy ‘stops pirate attack’“, November 11th, 2008.

[emphasis mine]

Let’s be clear, this is not a problem limited to eastern African or Indian Ocean states; this affects every nation whose trade transits the Suez Canal.  One hopes that sooner or later, other nations will also see the value in instilling confidence in their own seafaring communities.

AVAST YE FILTHY SCALAWAG UPDATE: INS Tabar sinks a pirate “mother ship” after a mere 17 days in the Gulf of Aden.

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6 Responses
  1. Technology transfer and some Indian public relations

    The UK lifts ban on nuclear exports to India, the Indian navy sends an armed…

  2. Harsha Nagaraju says:

    “Wonder of wonders, India appears to be blessed with a senior staff that actually understands the purpose and role of a navy, too.”
    Well, it is hardly surprising, Indian Military has always had a great tradition of commitment to duty and exemplary valor. It is our political leadership that is lacking in vision.
    You might want to update about INS Tabar sinking another pirate ship in Gulf of Aden as of 19th November 2008. India has the capability to walk its talk and the world will definitely look up to her as a major player in coming years.

  3. Chris Taylor says:

    Well, it is hardly surprising, Indian Military has always had a great tradition of commitment to duty and exemplary valor. It is our political leadership that is lacking in vision.
    I think the same could be said for most military forces, although lately our fellas in the West have developed an ever-narrowing definition of duty.
    I am indeed overjoyed to learn Tabar has sunk a large pirate hull, and be honest, I think the survival of western democratic civilisation depends on India stepping up to the plate. The Old West’s governing class has all but given up.

  4. Battle Axe smokes a filthy pirate

    INS Tabar (Sanskrit for battle axe) has been in the Gulf of Aden all of 17 days and has already racked up three successes; two saves and one kill. INS Tabar encountered a pirate vessel south west of Oman with two speedboats in tow…

  5. jsm says:

    what are the western navies doing? are they holidaying at aden?

  6. Chris Taylor says:

    The NATO task force, CTF-150, is specifically targeted at escorting food aid ships (from the UN World Food Programme) bound for Somalia.
    If you were a pirate, would you rather bag a bulk carrier full of food (and have to wait for the tortuous UN process to grind onwards to get your ransom), or something more valuable with more responsive ownership, like an oil tanker?