Defence minister AK Antony on Thursday expressed helplessness in beating the Somali pirates at their game in the Indian Ocean and ruled out any military offensive against them to free Indians held captive on board hijacked merchant vessels.
"It is a sorry state of affairs. Because, in spite of the fact that 18 navies of the world ... we are not able to contain this piracy," Antony told reporters on the sidelines of an international hydrography seminar organised by the Indian Navy here.
However, he exuded confidence that the world navies would be able to stop piracy through joint efforts.
"But efforts (to contain piracy) are going on. More and more coordination is there between all the nations. Even though we are finding it difficult to contain them, we will be able to succeed ultimately. We will not let up. Not only India, piracy is a cause of worry to all the nations," he said.
Expressing concern over the plight of the Indian sailors held hostage, Antony said the government understood the pain of their families.
"The entire government is aware of the sensitivity. We are all concerned about the agonies of the people. So the government is doing our best to understand the problem," he added.
Asked if the government was considering an offensive against the pirates to free the hostages, Antony said: "No, there is no military option."
Somali pirates are holding nine Indians among 22 crew members of Iranian merchant vessel MV Sinan since Feb 12 this year and another six Indians among 25 sailors on board Egyptian cargo ship MV Suez since Aug 2 last.
The pirates have threatened to kill the hostages if their ransom demands were not met.