US ‘anti-piracy’ ship seized, has no papers
Officials said that the ship was stopped on Friday and was being held in the southern port of Tuticorin along with its 10 crew and 25 armed security guards until required documentation is submitted. The crew and security guards included British, Estonian, Indian and Ukrainian nationals. Semi-automatic weapons have been found on board the ship.
The ship’s captain, meanwhile, has told investigators that the guards belong to a company which provides armed escorts, especially to merchant vessels in pirate-infested areas of southern Indian Ocean as well as Gulf of Aden.
The vessel, registered in Sierra Leone (West Africa), has been towed to Tuticorin port, where investigations are on by the Indian Coast Guard, Indian Navy, Customs and intelligence agencies.
Usually, ships do not carry the number of weapons as MV Seaman Guard had on board, making it a matter of slight concern to Indian authorities. ‘We are making sure that there are no lapses from our side and would like to be assured before taking any further step. The ministry of external affairs assistance is being sought into the matter by the defence ministry,’ sources stated.
According to some newspapers reports, the ship belonged to a US based firm AdvanFort. The company provides comprehensive maritime security solutions for the commercial shipping industry.