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Another naval ship heads for Seychelles

Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: With sea pirates spreading their wings beyond the Gulf of Aden and activity being reported off Seychelles, the Indian Navy has dispatched a second ship to the region as it delivers a refurbished fast-attack craft to that country.

SCG Topaz that was in India for a refit is expected to reach Seychelles by Friday. The fast-attack craft is being towed by an Indian Navy Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) that would stay in the region for patrolling, Navy sources said here.

Topaz, a medium size attack craft armed with both medium and small size guns and can acquire a top speed of 27 knots an hour, was gifted by India to Seychelles in 2005. The ship was brought to the Visakhapatnam naval dockyard in September for a major refit. The vessel can detect, locate and destroy fast-moving surface craft.

The OPV is expected to relieve INS Nirdeshak, the hydrographic survey vessel that has been in the region for the last few weeks.

In fact, towards the end of April, the vessel took part in an operation launched together by the French and Spanish navies in which nine Somali pirates were apprehended.

The sources said that during the last few days there have been a number of reports off Seychelles of pirates attacking vessels, including a British cargo vessel. There was also a mistaken attack on a French warship.

While the Indian Navy continues its engagement in the Indian Ocean region, it has decided to send some platforms from the Western Fleet within a month towards the Atlantic through the Mediterranean to take part in exercises with the navies of France, British and Russia.

The sources said these exercises would be an experience for the Indian Navy, its platforms and personnel to work in foreign waters and in different climatic conditions.

The Navy said it would move its landing ship tank, INS Kesari, from Visakhapatnam to Port Blair.

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