India Arrests AdvanFort Anti-Piracy Force

Indian police have arrested eight crew and 25 security guards of a detained U.S.-owned anti-piracy ship for carrying weapons in Indian waters without proper permits. The British, Estonian, Indaian and Ukrainian crew aboard the Seaman Guard Ohio was arrested Friday in the southern port of Tuticorin. The ship is owned by AdvanFort, a maritime security firm based in Washington, D.C.

Indian Foreign Secretary Sujata Singh said the crew was arrested after failing to produce documents allowing them to carry the weapons.

“The crew and guards are currently cooperating with the police investigations that are ongoing in Tamil Nadu,” Singh said in a statement. “Cases have been filed with regards to the Arms Act and the Essential Commodities Act Basic information on this case has been shared in routine course with U.S. Embassy representatives.”

AdvanFort president William Watson claimed the captain produced documents showing the weapons were properly licensed in an interview with the Voice of America.

Watson also said the Seaman Guard Ohio was operating outside Indian territorial waters when it was detained.  The vessel had moved closer than normal to India’s shore because of the treacherous waters caused by Cyclone Phailin, he said.

At the time of the arrest, the Seaman Guard Ohio was refueling from another vessel. “The Indian coast guard came out and asked us to come in to port because apparently they were conducting an investigation of fuel transfer issues, and when we went into port of course because we had the weapons on board they sought to audit those weapons,” Watson said. “Our understanding from the authority team that came on board was that they found all of our papers to be in order.”