India seeks support of Indian Ocean countries to fight piracy


New Delhi : India has initiated talks with countries of the Indian Ocean Region for a “collaborative” arrangement to combat the rampant piracy in the Gulf of Aden, one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world, an official said here Friday.

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The Gulf of Aden is vital for the trade and economy of India and the IOR countries as it provides access to the Suez Canal through which ships transit between Europe and Asia without having to take the longer and more expensive route around the southern tip of Africa. It is a crucially important route for oil tankers.

“We are in talks with other countries for a collaborative arrangement to fight piracy in the Gulf of Aden as it is a practical solution. The initial response of the countries has been good,” an Indian Navy official said.

Indian Navy Chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta has said Thursday that New Delhi was keen on a “collaborative” arrangement with other countries to take on piracy in that strategic region. He said the navy was also considering the option of aerial policing to protect merchant ships.

The IOR is the third largest body of water in the world and comprises of 33 littoral states.

The Indian Navy has also asked the Director General Shipping to keep it informed of the movement of the merchant ships in the Gulf of Aden.

“We are escorting ships in convoys and hence we have asked DG Shipping to tell us about the ship movement. We are also in touch with other countries so that if their ships are passing through at that time they can be escorted,” the official said.

In view of the convoying of ships and to replace its stealth frigate INS Tabar, which has been patrolling in the Gulf of Aden since Nov 2, the Indian Navy is sending a Delhi class missile guided destroyer to the region.

“The moment convoying comes into picture the bigger warships have the wherewithal to execute it. We will be requiring helicopters for doing recce and for going to and fro while the warship is escorting the merchant vessels,” the official added.

According to reports, Somali pirates are holding as many as 17 vessels with over 300 crewmembers on board.