Anti-piracy group welcomes more Indian warships

By Dipankar De Sarkar, IANS,

London : The International Maritime Bureau (IMB), the only organisation monitoring piracy on the high seas, has welcomed reports that the Indian Navy is planning to deploy more warships to patrol the dangerous Gulf of Aden.

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“It’s definitely a welcome step. It’s not just the deployment that we welcome, but also the action that the Indian Navy has taken,” the London-based IMB’s manager Cyrus Mody said.

“There has to be some form of deterrence,” Mody told IANS.

The Indian Navy is reported to be considering a number of proposals to boost its presence in the Gulf of Aden, a 950-km stretch of waters through which an average of one Indian ship passes every day.

While the shipping ministry has a proposal before it seeking the deployment of four warships, the Navy is also said to be considering despatching guided-missile destroyer INS Mysore to the region.

A Delhi class destroyer, INS Mysore, could replace INS Tabar, which destroyed a Somali pirate ship this week, Navy officials have told IANS in New Delhi.

India is also said to be considering increased aerial reconnaissance in the pirate-infested Gulf of Aden, the world’s busiest sea lane.

The IMB official in London said a bigger Indian naval presence will help boost security cover in the region, which is currently patrolled by an “inadequate” eight to twelve warships.

“There is a vast sea area to be covered,” said Mody, whose London-headquartered organisation has a round-the-clock manned piracy reporting centre in Kuala Lumpur.

The only such agency in the world, the IMB plays a crucial role coordinating global anti-piracy efforts, relaying messages between threatened vessels and warships patrolling the area.

In the IMB’s views, the recent spate of hijackings by pirates in the Gulf of Aden points to the need for increased allocation of resources and more Indian-style “direct action by the navies.”

“Somalia has put up its hands. And the laws are all there. What is needed is more direct action,” Mody said.

“You don’t need to blow the pirate ships out of water. You confiscate their boats and their arms. You disrupt their working.”

Pirate ships are relatively easy to spot out in the Gulf of Aden – there is usually a ‘mother ship’ of the kind destroyed by INS Tabar Tuesday.

These vessels are usually disguised as fishing boats or dhows and would be followed by a couple of boats.

“They’d be loitering around the area,” said Mody.

“You go to them, board them if they allow you. You act on suspicion, and confirm your suspicion, then take appropriate action.

“It is entirely legitimate to take such action.”