The vessel had 25 security guards on board, and a 10-member crew. Authorisation for carrying weapons on board was being verified, an officer said.
The Coast Guard took into custody a vessel flying a Sierra Leone flag, found on the high seas under mysterious circumstances, and brought it to Tuticorin port early Saturday for investigation, the officer said.
"Investigation is on. Our patrol vessel found the ship yesterday (Friday) and later brought it to Tuticorin port," an Indian Coast Guard official told IANS over phone from Tuticorin, about 600 km from the state capital.
Later, in a statement, the Coast Guard said that at about 10.30 p.m. Friday, information was received at the regional headquarters about the presence of a suspicious merchant vessel, MV Seaman Guard, carrying arms and guards, close to Tuticorin.
A Coast Guard ship was dispatched, and the foreign vessel was intercepted around 3.30 a.m. Saturday at 15 nautical miles east of Tuticorin. The vessel was escorted to Tuticorin port where Indian security officials are carrying out investigations.
According to the Coast Guard, the vessel was manned by a 10-member crew, of which eight are Indian and two Ukranian.
The vessel also had 25 security guards, of which six are British, 14 Estonian, one Ukranian and four Indian.
The Coast Guard said the authorisation for carrying arms onboard is yet to be produced and verified.
"Further investigation of the ship would be undertaken by the Coastal Police for ascertaining any involvement in arms trafficking," the Coast Guard said.
Sierra Leone is a West African country.
An Internet search showed Seaman Guard belongs to an American company, AdvanFort, specialising in maritime security against pirates.
--IANS (Posted on 13-10-2013)