Shipping firms gear up to fight Somali piratesAqrisatay:1657
Mumbai, India – Ship-owners are fast devising strategies to stay in business as Somalian pirates are continuing to wreak havoc by hijacking merchant vessels despite warships patrolling the infested waters.
Self-defence mechanisms are being devised to ward off the threats. The global shipping industry is also seeking help from various quarters to keep the pirates at bay.
Only thirteen days ago Somalian pirates had hijacked an Italian flag vessel MT Enrico Ievoli when it was on voyage with a load of 15,000 mt of caustic soda.
According to the Directorate General of Shipping, the ship was bound to the Somalian coast.
With 18 crew members including seven Indians, the ship is currently anchored off the coast of Somalia for negotiations to secure the release of the ship as well as the crew in exchange for money.
According to the DG Shipping data, a total of 43 Indian seafarers on merchant vessels have been captured by Somalian pirates.
In the last 18 months over 1,100 seafarers have been taken hostage and 516 were used as human shields.
According to International Maritime Organisation, the global economy, and more specifically the shipping industry, is bearing an annual cost of $7-12 billion due to this menace.
Though ship-owners remained tight lipped about the exact means they are adopting to counter the menace, they said they are now better prepared to deal with the situation than before.
“Rather than paying off millions of dollars as ransom money, it is better to hire armed guards as an additional safety measure. We have also invested heavily to secure the crew and the ships, in case of an attack,” said a ship-owner who did not want to be identified.
Some of the self defence measures include fencing the deck with razor wire, spraying sea water on pirates to prevent boarding, installing pirate alarm to help the crew to get into secured zone (a strong room) to escape hostage situations and secure the communication and control room to call for help.
Armed guards are to help the ship pass through the danger zone.
Ships other than those registered in the US and UK, are not supposed to carry fire arms on board. So, the navies of several countries, including the Indian Navy, are providing protection.
To promote self-protection among sea farers and to counter the pirates, some leading shipping companies have designed specialised courses to train sea farers on anti-piracy measures.
“India is among the top twenty maritime nations in the world. The country’s strength is solely based on its high quality maritime manpower,” said Captain Sanjay Bhavnani, CEO, MMS Maritime India, the subsidiary of Japan’s Meiji Shipping company.
Meiji Shipping Company of Japan, for example, has designed an anti-piracy training that provides sufficient knowledge to deal with piracy, hijacking and armed robbery at anchorages and on high seas.
The parameters of training include preparing a ship for a high risk transit, revealing potential threats and menaces, emergency response procedures, piracy tactics and counter measures for vessels to deter attacks and methods to repel boarders, effective interaction with coalition forces and surviving threat and hostage situations, officials said.
According to experts, about a third of India’s total fleet of about 900 cargo ships deployed in international waters is at risk on the route.Share