By Steve Herman
New Delhi, India (RushPRnews)11/19/08-For the second time in a week, India’s navy has repelled pirates in the Gulf of Aden. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from New Delhi that compared to other navies patrolling the pirate-infested water, India’s warships are showing no hesitation in opening fire to thwart hijackings and protect their national interests beyond its shores.
India’s navy says one of its stealth frigates destroyed a heavily armed pirate mother ship with two speed boats in tow, about 528 kilometers southwest of the coast of Oman.
It is the second time in a week the Indian navy has clashed with suspected hijackers in the pirate-infested waters of the Gulf of Aden.
The director of the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies in New Delhi, retired Indian Army Major General Dipankar Banerjee, says India’s navy has been given the all-clear by the government here to confront the pirates.
“It is very much in order for India to take an active interest in these attempted hijackings of ships, which now often have a very significant portion of Indian sailors,” said Banerjee. “Indian merchantmen are manning most of these ships now. And most of these ships will have a significant number of Indians in them apart from the Indian cargo.
The presence of a number of warships from at least nine countries, including the United States, in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden has, so far, done little to thwart the rising number of attacks on commercial vessels.
Maritime industry groups report pirates are currently holding 14 ships off the Somali coast, including an oil supertanker.
An Indian navy warship, on November 11, first intercepted pirates who surrounded an Indian merchant vessel in the Gulf of Aden.
In the second incident – late Tuesday – the Indian Naval Ship Tabar, according to the Defense Ministry here, encountered a so-called mother ship of a group of pirates. The vessel refused to be boarded for an inspection, responded that it would destroy the Tabar if it did not depart and then fired upon the naval ship. India’s navy says the Tabar returned fire, the pirate ship exploded as two speed boats of the suspected pirates broke away and escaped.
The Tabar was dispatched on an anti-piracy mission to the region at the beginning of the month to escort Indian and other merchant ships through the pirate-infested waters off of Somalia.
The International Maritime Bureau says piracy in the region is out of control. It is calling on the United Nations to take a role to halt the menace which is driving up costs for shipping and making crew members hesitant to transit one of the world’s busiest commercial maritime routes.