The 35-member crew of Seaman Guard Ohio has been booked under the Arms Act for not possessing valid licence for the arms and ammunitions found onboard the American ship. Seven of the 10 crew members and four of the 25 security guards onboard the ship were Indians, sources said.
The private security vessel, involved in anti-piracy operations in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden was detained by the Indian Coast Guard in the Bay of Bengal on Thursday night.
The ship was brought to Thoothukudi on Friday evening and stationed 15 nautical miles off the coast. The crew members were reportedly questioned by several agencies. Preliminary investigation revealed that the ship had drifted away as it was low on fuel and food.
After subsequent investigations it emerged that the crew had entered the Bay of Bengal waters after procuring 1,500 litres of diesel from a fisherman through their agency in Dubai, which was spotted by a satellite.
The crew’s excuse to explain their presence in the Bay of Bengal also fell flat as drifting for 50 to 60 nautical miles could have been stopped by anchorage.
Sources within the Marine Police said that the crew members had been booked under Section 25(i)(b), (a) and (f) of the Arms Act as they had no authorisation to enter the Bay of Bengal with arms. They were also booked under Sections 7(i)(a), (ii) of Essential Commodities Act read with Order 2(e) (iv,v,vi) and 2(f) of Motor Spirit and High Speed Diesel (Regulation of Supply and Distribution and Prevention of Malpractices) Order, 2005.