World Maritime Day brings hope of an end to piracy

Sep 28, 2011, 3:50PM EST
Three steps to prevent piracy attacks

 The message was loud and clear at the World Maritime Day celebration held in Mumbai - that despite the inability of the International Maritime Organization to provide a solution to the on-going piracy attacks and nations unwilling to put up a united front, there is still a kindling hope that the menace could still be eradicated. Those who turned up for the program at the spacious auditorium of the Shipping Corporation of India on 27th September returned hopeful that a solution to this scourge which is costing over $ 10 to $ 15 billion to the world maritime trade was within reach if all play their cards well.

Some positive indicators were the number of successful attacks had reduced over the past few months; carrying armed guards had proved a deterrent; moving along with the convoy under escort by naval ships was the safest mode for traversing the Somalian waters, etc.

On the government’s side K. Mohandas, the Union Shipping Secretary, Government of India stated in his address, “The Indian Navy will continue to play an effective role in warding off the piracy attacks and we have introduced the Best Management Practices which has proved beneficial. We have allowed armed guards on Indian ships. India is doing its bests but the international community has not being doing its best. Piracy will cease once the pirates realize that it is not worth the risk and no more remunerative.”

On the Naval side, Vice Admiral Pradeep Chauhan, Chief of Staff of the Western Naval Command while delivering his keynote address explained in details the dicey situation the Indian navy was in, trying to tackle piracy. “Maritime interests are a sub set of our core national interest,” he explained. “Hence, the Navy’s objective is to assure the economic material and social well-being of our people. In this regard the Navy is looked upon to provide protection to India’s international trade, 30 per cent of which used to move under Indian flag ships in 1976, but has now come down drastically to only 9 per cent being carried by Indian vessels.”  Under this changed scenario how can the navy continue to undertake its protective role when most of the Indian cargo is carried by foreign ships along with cargo belonging to nations including Pakistan, China and others.

Arresting the pirates proves to be no solution. He said the last time the navy did just that and handed the pirates over to the police in Mumbai, the court and other legal proceedings took their own course. The pirates ended up going on sight-seeing tour of India and have ended up as residents of Dharavi, Asia’s biggest slum - the place where the Awarding winning movie “Slumdog Millionaire” was shot.     

Carrying armed guards may not be a solution in itself according to Vice Admiral Chauhan as pirates could end up equipped with more powerful weapons than the armed guards themselves. Hence, he strongly advocated the use of Best Management Practices as a better option. He also pointed out, “Escort provided by Indian Navy has always been a success in preventing pirates attack because we provide end-to-end escort which other navies do not except in the case of the Japanese and the Chinese navies besides ours. We have tried to encourage other navies to follow the same procedure but they have reasons of their own not to.”

The presentation by Capt Mahadeo Makane was very informative. He narrated details of the horrific moments his crew had to undergo at the hands of the pirates after they were captured and held captive for the longest duration. Their captors tortured and humiliated the crew and played one crew member against another trying to extract information that could be used to knock out a better deal from the negotiators of the ship owner.

Dr. (Mrs) Corinne Idnani explained in details about her experience treating seafarers suffering from trauma after being held captive by pirates for long periods of time.  She provided information about the pre-sea training which seafarers could take in order to prepare themselves for the worst in case they got captured by the pirates.              


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Tony Andrews
Good post Joseph, as you accurately pointed out, the courts are useless in curbing piracy since these people only know one thing and that is using force to take what they want, so I contend that using force is what they will understand. Therefore, shoot them, hang them, keel haul them or walk the plank, any method will work and they will get the idea once they realize that we will fire back and take no prisoners. Since it is force they they understand it must be delt with by utilizing superior force.
9/29/2011 12:57:39 PM
I just returned back from a ship which was under grip of Pirates 6 & half months. Vessel was released but 50% crew were retained and their where abouts unclear.

New crew joined but still had a fear of pirates, this was overcome by placing armed guards, placing Armed Guard had boosted morale of more than 50% crew.
9/30/2011 4:11:16 AM

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