Dr Anil Sharma, the Indian link to the bulk carrier rescued by Navy from pirates

Indian Navy’s efforts to rescue the Liberian-flagged bulk carrier named MV Lila Norfolk from a hijacking bid by pirates in the Arabian Sea on Friday drew much attention from the global shipping community reeling under the attacks unleashed by Houthi militants on commercial ships transiting the Red Sea.

MV Lila Norfolk is owned by Lila Global, a dry bulk and tanker shipping company, and the ship-owning unit of Dubai-based GMS Leadership founded by Indian-born Dr. Anil Sharma.

Steve Kunzer, chief executive of the vessel’s owners Lila Global, thanked the Indian navy for the rescue.

“We are pleased to advise that the crew of Lila Norfolk have been successfully rescued by the Indian Navy vessel INS Chennai and the vessel and crew are all safe.”

“We want to thank the Agencies that assisted in their rescue in particular the Indian Navy, Capt Rohit Bajpai, Director IFC-IOR and the officials of DG Shipping. We also want to thank the professionalism of our crew who reacted safely and responsibly under the circumstances,” he said in a statement.

The cargo ship with 21 crew members on board, including 15 Indians, sent a message on the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) portal indicating that five to six unknown armed personnel boarded the vessel on Thursday evening, the Indian Navy said.

The Indian Navy said it responded swiftly to the “developing situation” and deployed a maritime patrol aircraft and diverted frontline warship INS Chennai for the security of MV Lila Norfolk.

Dr. Anil Sharma, is the founder of GMS, Lila Global’s parent company. The ship owning arm of GMS, Lila Shipping is an integrated vessel owner and operator that maintains tonnage in the dry, wet and container spaces.

Since its inception in 1992, the company has grown its diverse fleet to more than 40 ships including capesize dry bulk vessels, VLCCs and post-panamax containers.

In December Sharma, has been honored in Lloyd’s List Top 100 Most Influential People in the Shipping Industry for an unprecedented 14th consecutive year.

This achievement places Dr. Sharma amongst an elite group of only seven individuals worldwide who have consistently been recognized in all 14 editions of the list, showcasing his enduring influence and leadership in the global maritime sector.

Under Dr. Sharma’s visionary leadership, Dubai-based GMS – a large buyer of ships and offshore vessels for recycling – has played a pivotal role in advocating for and implementing sustainable ship recycling practices.

His efforts have been instrumental in the ratification of the Hong Kong Convention (HKC) across the Indian sub-continent, marking a significant milestone in the industry’s journey towards environmental stewardship, GMS highlighted in a press release.

The Hong Kong Convention, which will finally enter into force in June 2025, is designed to facilitate the recycling of ships in a manner that significantly minimizes risks to human health, safety, and the environment.

It embodies a comprehensive approach, covering all stages from ship construction to their eventual recycling, ensuring responsible disposal of waste streams.

Originally from India, Dr. Sharma moved to the USA, where he earned both a Master’s and a Doctorate in Business Administration.

He spent the first ten years of his career in academia—as a professor and then chairman of the business department at a state university—before creating GMS in 1992 and becoming a leader in the global ship recycling community.

“Being part of this esteemed list for 14 years, alongside a select few, is not just a personal honor, but a testament to our team’s dedication at GMS and Lila Global. It reflects our collective efforts to build cross-sector collaboration and develop tangible approaches to reducing emissions and promoting sustainable practices in maritime trade,” said Dr. Anil Sharma.