Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Pirate attacks in Indian waters


From time to time we read reports published in the papers about pirate attack on cargo and merchant ships on high seas. The pirates hold the crew and ship for ransom. Many a times, there are Indians too amongst the captured crew employed in foreign vessels. The pirates are ruthless and even torture the crew to hasten their demands for ransom. 

After the initial reports in the papers, nothing more is heard of these incidents. Some crew members are still in their custody at various places. A report says, nearly 200 incidents in the sub-continent have occurred in 2006-2012. Of the attacks and attempted attacks worldwide, the Indian sub-continent has seen 53 attacks in 2006, 30 attacks in 2007, 23 attacks in 2008, 30 attacks in 2009, 28 attacks in 2010, 16 attacks in 2011 and 19 attacks in 2012.

The bureau has reported a total of 199 pirate attacks on vessels in the sub-continent’s waters in 2006-2012. It warned mariners to be extra cautious when transiting from South East Asia and the sub-continent, which covers Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malacca Straits, Singapore Straits and South China Sea;  and Africa and Red Sea (Africa, Gulf of Aden/Red Sea, Somalia, Ivory Coast, Guinea, The Congo and Egypt), South and Central America and the Caribbean waters (Ecuador) and Gulf of Oman.

The bureau’s 2012 report stated that 2,386 ships from 97 countries in the merchant shipping business were attacked. The seas and oceans around Africa top the chart with 1,228 cases, and Indian waters come third after South East Asian Waters. The figures are alarming which necessitates action on an international level across the seas to protect ships and keep the shipping lanes pirate free.

As per international law, piracy is a crime on the high seas and it is done for only personal gain, with sometimes loss of property and at the cost of lives. The report stated pirates attacked 43 Indian-flag merchant vessels, placing it 11th

Panama topped with 409 ships. Liberia 268 and Singapore 215. However after strict measures with naval ships patrolling the area, there has been a drop in Somali piracy activity, which earlier used to be constantly in the news; with 297 cases in 2012, after 439 in 2011, and the Gulf of Guinea has replaced the Gulf of Aden as one of the highest risk zones. 

Countries in the region should act and take stern measures to see that no pirates operate in the area. But most of the attacks are on high seas, when the ship is isolated and vulnerable to these attacks of pirates armed with sophisticated weapons, including AK47 rifles, rocket launchers, etc. With goods and cargo ships and oil tankers sailing constantly on high seas and busy shipping lanes across the world, pirate menace is real and should be eradicated by all the effected countries coming together. Either by naval ships patrolling the seas or by armed guards escorting the merchant vessels in these piracy prone regions. 


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