India today justified the detention of a ship owned by an American company and the arrest of its crew, saying the action was taken as the vessel in Indian waters carried arms, ammunition and armed guards without necessary authorisation. "The vessel is owned by an American company but has the flag of Sierra Leone. It was stopped by the Coast Guard in consideration of issues like it was carrying arms, ammunition and armed guards without necessary authorisation," Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh told reporters here.
She was commenting when asked about the detention of the ship and the arrest of its 33 crew members. The action has been taken under the Arms Act and the Essential Commodities Act, she said. "The crew and guards are extending cooperation," Singh said.
She said details have been shared with the US Embassy representative and the government has no hesitation to share further details. The crew members were arrested today by Tamil Nadu Police which claimed to have seized 35 arms and about 5,680 rounds of ammunition from the vessel 'M V Seaman Guard Ohio' that was impounded on October 12.
Thirty three out of the 35 members on board the vessel were taken to Muthiahpuram Police Station this morning and questioned after which police completed legal formalities to effect their arrest. The investigation by the “Q” Branch police of the state's specialised wing in the last two days has revealed that the vessel was found in the country's territorial waters and was in possession of a huge quantity of arms and ammunition, without valid authorisation of documents, police said.
Police said the two crew members have been permitted to stay on board the vessel to carry out maintenance of the ship till further arrangements were made and they would also be arrested.