MHA seeks detailed report on US ship carrying arms

Published: 15th October 2013 07:30 AM  |   Last Updated: 15th October 2013 07:30 AM   |  A+A-

The Ministry of Home Affairs on Monday sought a detailed report from the Intelligence agencies and Tamil Nadu Government regarding the US ship which was intercepted and detained 15 nautical miles east of Tuticorin on October 12.

The vessel, MV Seaman Guard Ohio, registered in Sierra Leone, has 10 crew members including eight Indians, two Ukranians and 25 security guards including 6 British, 14 Estonian, 1 Ukranian and 4 Indians.

“We have asked for a detailed report. Since it was carrying arms and bought fuel in India illegally, we have asked the agencies for a thorough probe into the matter,” an MHA official said. Speaking to Express, Thomas Chacko of AdvanFort, the US based company which owns the MV Seaman Guard Ohio, said the ship entered into Indian waters because it needed refuelling though he conceded that it had no permission to sail into the Indian waters.

Chacko said before being intercepted by the Coast Guard, the ship had done its last berth in Cochin.

“The report of not having arms license is completely false. In fact, we have submitted all the necessary documents required by the authorities including license to carry arms. We are in the business of private security operation for a very long time and have been operating in high-risk areas to counter piracy incidents,” Chacko said.

An FIR has been registered against 10 crew members and 25 guards of the detained ship by the Tamil Nadu Marine Police for illegally carrying arms and ammunition. Besides, a case under the Essential Commodities Act has also been registered for buying 1,500 litres of diesel illegally with the help of a local shipping agent.

When asked about the destination of the ship, Chacko refused to divulge the details. However, he said the authorities have been informed about all the details and all the required documents were produced. “We are fully cooperating with the authorities,” he said. When contacted by ‘Express’ for more details about the ship, AdvanFort (Washington DC, US) office refused to comment.

Meanwhile, MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said the matter is being probed. “Once we get the report from authorities, we will decide on the follow-up steps,” he said.

“It has not become a diplomatic matter right now. US embassy or Sierra Leone authorities have not approached us so far,” he said. Deputy National Security Advisor Nehchal Sandhu said law would take its own course in the matter. On being asked if the probe will be handed over to the NIA, Sandhu said, “We don’t know the details. But a report has been sought. We will look into it,” he said.

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