The Indian Navy is in favor of the imposition of penalties on Indian dhows and small merchant vessels that ignore its recommendations against plying in waters affected by Somalian piracy. This comes in the wake of reports of the hijacking of at least four Indian dhows around the Seychelles.
Sources in the Defense Ministry reiterated this view, already recommended to the Directorate General of Shipping in 2009, to consider punitive measures against vessels that sail these piracy-prone routes without regard to any kind of regulation and in the face of advice to the contrary. StratPost gathers that such vessels typically have a crew of 8-10 sailors and indulge in small-time trade, sometimes also indulging in illegal smuggling, poaching and trafficking of illicit goods like arms and narcotics. And while many of them do have an Automated Identification Systems (AIS), this is effective only at a radius of between 20-25 nautical miles.
“The DG Shipping should suspend or de-register such vessels that flagrantly violate the guidelines for staying clear of attempted piracy,” said one source at the Defense Ministry, who also added that such vessels are advised to steer clear of these troubled waters. According to him, the modus operandi of pirates is such that they routinely hijack such vessels and commandeer them as mother-ships to increase their scale of operation, not only endangering the lives of crew, but also putting other vessels at risk.
The MV (Merchant Vessel) Arzoo docked at Port Victoria in the Seychelles reported the hijacking of the Indian dhows Krishnajyot, 250 nautical miles north west of the Seychelles, the al Kadri and al Ijaj 250 nautical miles east by north east of the Seychelles and the Osmani 260 nautical miles east by south east of the Seychelles all on March 28, 2010. Also unknown is the fate of the vessels Nar Narayan, Sea Queen and Vishwa Kalyan.
While the Indian Navy does have a warship, the INS (Indian Naval Ship) Beas on anti-piracy patrol, the role is soon to be taken over by the INS Betwa, currently visiting Doha for the Doha International Maritime Exhibition and Conference (DIMDEX).