[Update] India Arrests 35 Crewmen From Detained U.S. Ship
Thirty-five people from a U.S. ship detained in India arrive at a police station in Tamil Nadu. They were arrested on Friday for reportedly failing to produce paperwork authorizing the carriage of weapons and ammunition in Indian waters.
Their vessel, owned by Virginia-based anti-piracy and maritime security firm AdvanFort, was seized on October 11th. There were 10 crew and 25 security guards on board at the time.
Defense analyst Bharat Verma says the arrest of the crew is lawful if they were in Indian waters, stating "If the ship is within our waters of 12 nautical miles and without permission then to arrest the ship's crew and capture the ship is absolutely legitimate."
AdvanFort nor the U.S consulate in Chennai were immediately available for comment on the latest developments in the case. However, on Tuesday, AdvanFort President William H. Watson released a statement regarding the Indian government's probe into the illegal bunkering and arms smuggling accusations.
“We are the real victim here,” said Watson. “We utilized what we believed to be a reputable agent to obtain fuel for the SEAMAN GUARD OHIO." On the weapons issue, Watson said: “Unfortunately, much has been made of documentation relating to the firearms aboard the OHIO. AdvanFort purchased these weapons legally, registered them properly, and has the appropriate licenses. Our guards use these firearms only to repel pirates and handle them safely in doing so.” In conclusion, Captain Watson stated: “Neither AdvanFort nor the crew nor the brave guards aboard OHIO ever intended to violate any law. They spend months at a time at sea and are dedicated to safeguarding commercial shipping from piracy attack.”