Tuticorin: The Q Branch of Tamil Nadu Police have arrested the crew and Security Guards of the detained US ship Seaman Guard Ohio, which has been detained on the port since October 12. The Ship allegedly carried arms and ammunitions in the Indian Waters without disclosing them to the Authorities. The Coast Guard has seized 31 assault rifles and around 5,000 rounds of ammunition from the Ship.
A Police Team led by Q branch SP Bhavaneeswari and Tuticorin SP M Durai arrested the 10 crew members and 25 security guards in the wee hours today. They have been taken from V O Chidambaranar port to Muthayapuram police station near Tuticorin dockyard. They were produced before a magistrate court and remanded in Police custody.
Incidentally, 8 Crew members and 4 Security Guards are Indians. They have been booked under two sections of the Indian Arms Act that prohibits possession of weapons without permission. Others include British,
Another case under the Essential Commodities Act has been registered against the crew for buying 1,500 litres of diesel illegally with the help of a local shipping agent.
The Arrest of Crew and Marines might create diplomatic problems for India. Reports are that United Kingdom has sought consular access to its six nationals arrested in this case.
The Ship is owned by an American Company AdvanFort and is registered in Sierre Leone. It specialises in maritime security against pirates.
This could not be established yet whether the ship was ferrying in Indian Waters or it was intercepted from International Water which extend beyond 12 nautical miles from the coast.
Earlier Advanfort tried to downplay the issue when its President William Watson personally thanked Indian government for offering a safe harbour to Ship during the Cyclone Phailin, however the recent developments counter the claims made by the Company.