Navy responds to SOS from Seychelles

After cracking down on pirates in the Gulf of Aden, the Navy will carry out anti-piracy patrols near the island nation of Seychelles following a request from the country. An Indian warship and survey vessel, the INS Nirdeshak, is currently in the area and will patrol the area after several incidents of Somali pirates operating near the nation were reported earlier this month.

The Seychelles Armed Forces today said it had requested the Indian Navy to patrol the exclusive economic zone of the country. The Navy confirmed that INS Nirdeshak has already been sent to the region.

While details of the area to be patrolled and the deployment of additional warships in the region will be discussed at a later stage, the Nirdeshak, which is a survey vessel of the Navy but is "adequately equipped" to undertake anti-piracy missions, will begin operations immediately.

This comes after growing concerns in Seychelles about Somali pirates operating near its coast. At least ten Seychellois have been taken hostage in the past few weeks after Somali pirates, being chased by international forces in the Gulf of Aden, have shifted their focus to this region. Several pirate groups are reported to be functioning less than 200 nautical miles north of Mahe, the largest island of the Seychelles.

So acute is the problem that the President of Seychelles, James Michel, had to cut short an official tour visit to Japan last week after several vessels came under attack from pirates.

The INS Nirdeshak, which belongs to the Sandhayak class of survey vessels, is equipped with a Chetak helicopter and interceptor boats that can undertake anti-piracy missions. It also has a heavy 40 mm Bofors gun on board and has made several trips to the island nation in the past to carry out navigational surveys.

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