Indian Navy seeks coordination among nations to fight piracy

November 19th, 2008 - 7:10 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 19 (IANS) Underscoring the audacity of pirates operating in the Gulf of Aden region, the Indian Navy has sought coordination among the global and regional powers to combat piracy in the region, a senior naval official said.At the moment, the navies of several countries are patrolling the Gulf of Aden, one of the busiest and the most pirate-infested shipping lanes in the world.

“Driven by economic considerations, the navies of several countries including the US, Russia, Malaysia, and some European countries have sent their ships to protect their own shipping. The pirates are taking advantage of the safety provided by the Somali coastline - the longest in the Gulf of Aden - and a lack of formal agreement between the concerned nations on conducting joint operations,” the senior navy official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The navy has also stressed the importance of a regional conclave like the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS), an endeavour of the Indian Navy to bring together the littoral countries of the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).

“The countries in the IOR have an interest in keeping the Gulf of Aden free of pirates. Hence a conclave like IONS can be a platform to launch a formal agreement to combat piracy,” the official added.

The US-led Combined Task Force 150 has been patrolling the dangerous waters off the coast Somalia since 2002. Malaysia, Russia and the most recently India have sent their warships to the region for anti-piracy operations.

For India, the Gulf of Aden shipping lane is of vital importance as the bulk of the country’s oil imports pass through it.

“We have been conducting patrolling in the region since Nov 2. We try to coordinate patrols with the other countries but it is done at an informal level,” the official added.

The Indian Navy Tuesday achieved a major success in its anti-piracy operations when it sank a pirate vessel off Somali coast after it fired at the stealth frigate INS Tabar. Prior to this, INS Tabar had repulsed two pirate attacks on two merchant ships, one belonging to India and the other to Saudi Arabia.

INS Tabar has thus far successfully escorted approximately 35 ships, including a number of foreign flagged vessels, safely during their transit through the Gulf of Aden.

Somali pirates have attempted 95 hijackings this year alone, a 75 percent increase since 2007. They are currently holding 13 ships captive by the pirates in the Somali ports of Eyl and Hobyo in the Gulf of Aden.

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