Measures taken for better security of the seafarers

India flag.gifThe government is drafting a policy aimed at providing better security to Indian sailors and other seafarers in the wake of several incidents of hijacking of ships by pirates off the Somali Coast.

"The ministry is drafting measures for security of the seafarers, but we cannot disclose any other information now as the proposal at a preliminary stage," a Shipping Ministry official said.

Around 500 Indian seafarers have been held hostage by Somali pirates off the Caribbean Coast in the past four years.

Some of the hostages were crew members of the ships -- MV Iceberg-I, MV Rak Afrikana, MV Suez, MV Asphalt Venture, MV Savina Caylyn, and MV Sinin -- which were hijacked by the pirates in 2011.

Meanwhile, as per the latest report on pirate activities released by the European Union Naval Force (EU NAVFOR) in March this year, Somali pirates around the Horn of Africa are holding 236 crew members as hostage from eight vessels.

According to EU NAVFOR, of the 236 sailors now held hostage by the pirates in the region, 32 are from Indian and include seven members from the ship Asphalt Venture'. The ship was, however, released.

Asphalt Venture was hijacked on September 28, 2010, in the Somali Basin and was released after intervention by anti-piracy forces on April 15, 2011. However, the pirates took 15 of the vessels crew as hostage, demanding more ransom.

Shipping Minister GK Vasan had earlier said that India and US could explore the possibility of working together to counter the problem on the basis of the 2006 Indo-US Framework for Maritime Security Cooperation. This provides for expanding cooperation in areas such as counter-piracy and littoral security.

Source: Neptune Maritime Security