Police arrest 35 crew members of arm-laden US ship Seaman Guard Ohio
The Tamil Nadu Police early this morning arrested 35 crew members of US ship MV Seaman Guard Ohio armed with ammunition which was detained on Friday for entering Indian waters illegally.
The Tamil Nadu Police early this morning arrested 35 crew members of US ship MV Seaman Guard Ohio which was detained on Friday for entering Indian waters illegally with an undeclared cache of arms and ammunition.
According to reports, all the 35 crew members who had been detained on board the vessel were placed under arrest this morning and are likely to be produced before a court later today.
On Thursday, the Q branch of Tamil Nadu police, which monitors activities of banned organisations and people associated with such groups, took over the investigation.
The Tamil Nadu government has also sent a preliminary report to the central government on the episode and the final report will be sent later.
Flying West African country Sierra Leone’s flag, Seaman Guard Ohio, owned by US company AdvanFort was in Indian waters on Friday night around 15 nautical miles from Tuticorin port.
The Indian Coast Guard escorted the ship with 35 members (10 crew and 25 security guards) to Tuticorin port, around 600 km from Chennai.
Officials from different security departments had questioned members of the ship as automatic rifles, bullets and other arms were found on board the vessel.
According to a marine police official, the security guards on the ship maintained that the arms were for providing security to ships, and they were waiting for further orders.
The marine police had on Monday registered a first information report (FIR) against the ship crew and other members.
The police official said the crew members are giving contradictory statements. Also, the papers presented by them do not support their oral version.
AdvanFort specialises in providing maritime security against pirates. According to the Coast Guard, the vessel was manned by a 10-member crew, of which eight are Indians and two Ukrainians.
The vessel also had 25 security guards – six British, 14 Estonians, one Ukrainian and four Indians. The ship also bought around 1,500 litres of diesel without proper papers. A case was registered for that as well.
According to a website that tracks marine traffic, the last known port of call for Seaman Guard Ohio was Sharjah.
With IANS inputs
Police also detained three locals, who were suspected to have illegally sold diesel to the ship 'M V Seaman Guard Ohio', owned by a private firm in US, police said.
"We have written to the MEA (Ministry of External Affairs) to request consular access to the British nationals," UK High Commission spokesperson Marcus Winsley said hours after 33 crew members of the ship, including six of its nationals, were arrested.
A local court today remanded three crew members of detained US ship M V Seaman Guard Ohio to five days police custody.