Defence analyst Captain (Retired) Bharat Verma on Friday said the arrest of 35 crew members of the detained armed American ship was legitimate, if it was within Indian waters without permission. “If the ship is within our waters of 12 nautical miles and without permission then to arrest the ship crew and capture the ship is absolutely legitimate. Now the coast guard, which escorted the ship to the shore, knows this law. So, it appears that the ship was inside the waters,” he said.
Earlier in the day, the Tamil Nadu Police arrested 35 crew members of the detained US ship for failing to produce papers authorizing the vessel to carry weapons and ammunitions in Indian waters The detained vessel has been identified as M.V. Seaman Guard Ohio and was intercepted and detained by the Indian Coast Guard about 15 nautical miles east of Tuticorin on Saturday.
On Thursday, Union Shipping Minister GK Vasan confirmed that the crew members and sailors of the detained American ship, which allegedly had illegal weapons onboard, are being charge-sheeted, and said that though the first stage of investigation has been completed, security forces are still vigilant. The Home Ministry has asked the Tamil Nadu government to probe into the case and submit a report to the Centre on the purpose of the armed American ship treading into Indian waters. FIRs were registered against 10 crew members and 25 guards of the detained ship by the Tamil Nadu Marine Police for illegally carrying arms and ammunition.
Media reports also claim that the detained vessel had 10 crewmembers, comprising of two Ukranians and eight Indians. The vessel also has 25 security guards, of which six are British, fourteen are Estonian, one Ukranian and four are Indians.