Indian Navy succeeds in pushing back pirates
Tuesday, 28 February 2012 | 13:03
The Indian Navy's action against the Somalian pirates off the Gulf of Aden has resulted in the seas on the Indian side being declared a safe area for merchant ships. "Many ships have been taking the route off the Indian coast after the Indian Navy's strong action against the Somalian pirates," said Captain Pottengal Mukundan, Director, International Maritime Bureau Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC).
Speaking to TOI, Captain Mukundan said that there have not been any incidents of Somali type hijacking in Indian territorial waters though in the last year (2011), 450 crew members have been taken hostage in Somali hijackings of 28 vessels. The IMB's Piracy Reporting Centre has been monitoring piracy worldwide since 1991.
While refusing to comment on the recent killing of two fishermen off the Indian waters by two Italian navy men abroad the merchant ship, Enrica Lexie, Captain Mukundan said that the law of the flag state prevails on the vessel. It is also subject to the laws of the coastal state in whose territorial waters the vessel is in. These laws determine the carriage of armed teams and the rules under which they operate.
He said that the issue of armed guards to protect ships from piracy attacks is being debated at the UN's International Maritime Organisation (IMO). Further discussions are likely to come up next month as the several countries remain apprehensive on the issue of armed men aboard a merchant ship.
The IMO had issued interim guidelines on the employment of privately contracted armed security personnel on board ships transiting the high-risk piracy area off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden and the wider Indian Ocean was approved by IMO's Maritime Safety Committee (MSC).
According to a recent global piracy report by the IMB, piracy on the world seas has risen to record levels, with Somali pirates behind 56 percent of the 352 attacks reported this year. But there has been a fall in the number of hijacking which IMB credits to policing and interventions by international naval forces. "Somali pirates are finding it harder to hijack ships and get the ransom they ask for. The navies deserve to be complimented on their excellent work: they are a vital force in deterring and disrupting pirate activity," said Captain Mukundan.
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