News / Africa

North Indian Ocean Facing Greater Piracy Risk

Calmer waters have allowed Somali-based pirates to attack and hijack numerous vessels in the Indian Ocean in recent weeks.  This year, pirates have widened their range of operations as far down as Mozambique Channel and as far east as India.

In an interview with VOA one year ago, the director of the International Maritime Bureau in London, Pottengal Mukundun, expressed concerns about pirates venturing hundreds of kilometers off the coast of Somalia and threatening vessels in the region of the Seychelles and Comoros Islands.  

Mukundun says, this year, pirates have extended their reach to threaten just about any vessel sailing in the northern half of the Indian Ocean.

"I think the whole of the Indian Ocean north of Mauritius and Madagascar is [an] area, where ships should continue to be on alert," he said.  "The attack, which took place about 66 degrees east recently, was the first time an attack had taken place so far east.  There was at least one mother ship there.  So, they were able to operate in that area and they took the first ship that they attacked."

At the time it was seized on March 22, the vessel, a Turkish-owned, Maltese-flagged bulk carrier with a crew of 21 sailors, was about 5,000 kilometers off the coast of Somalia, close to India.   The U.S. Navy says another pirate mother ship was recently spotted down in the Mozambique Channel, a waterway between Mozambique and the island-nation of Madagascar.

Mother ships are often hijacked vessels used to transport pirates far out into the open sea.  From these mother ships, pirates launch small, fast attack boats to pursue a vessel, go alongside it and board it.  

The International Maritime Bureau has long called for international navies patrolling the Somali coast to target mother ships rather than trying to intervene during an attack.  Mukundun says he remains convinced that going after mother ships is the only way to counter the growing menace of piracy, especially in the Indian Ocean.

"I think it still remains the only tactical response in the Indian Ocean.  It is such a vast area.  The pirates have suffered setbacks in the last four to five weeks because the French, the Dutch, and other navies have actually identified mother ships, pursued them and sunk some of the small mother ships.  So, those are all positive signs," Mukundun added.

Since early 2009, foreign navies have been patrolling and providing escorts for commercial vessels, mostly in the pirate-infested Gulf of Aden, a vital shipping lane between Somalia and Yemen.   But their forces are stretched and unable to respond to every distress call.

About 16 vessels, including eight Indian-owned dhows with more than 100 crew members, have been seized in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden since the beginning of March.   Ransom demand for each vessel and its crew has jumped to about $3 million from an average of $1 million a year ago.

Some commercial ships have hired armed private security to deter piracy.  In the first recorded incident of its kind, a private security guard on board a merchant ship shot and killed a pirate last week during an attack.

The use of armed security guards is controversial amid fears in the shipping industry that having guns aboard vessels could lead to violence that endangers the crew.

You May Like

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid