Indian Navy chasing buccaneers
Make no mistake. They are not the pirates of the Caribbean. Even if a one-eyed, rakish Johnny Depp springs to mind. They are the modern-day buccaneers of the high seas.india Updated: Jan 11, 2006 03:23 IST
Make no mistake. They are not the pirates of the Caribbean. Even if a one-eyed, rakish Johnny Depp springs to mind. They are the modern-day buccaneers of the high seas. Plundering, looting and holding traffic on the south-east Asian-Malacca strait to ransom every year. For the 50,000 odd ships that sail through the stretch, it is a tangible threat.
A fear that translates into loss of life, ship and cargo worth lakhs every year. It has led the reputed UK-based Llyod’s Register of Shipping to designate the strait as a “war zone” and force insurance firms to charge more premium on insured vessels passing through it.
At Milan 06 — the biggest international naval exercise being organised by the Indian Navy off the Andaman coast — protecting Merchant Navy vessels plying through the 400 nautical mile strait will top the agenda.
The Navy might also try to hammer out a multi-lateral pact with countries like Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia lining the strait. The exercise could further enable the Navy to navigate the choppy waters of maritime diplomacy in terms of its “Look East” policy.
The Navy has its hands full in the straits. The waters are infested with ills. Hijacking, human trafficking, smuggling, to name a few. India has conducted joint patrolling of the strait four times with Indonesia to clean up the waters.
“The last one was on December 9 last year and the first was in 2002. We have also jointly patrolled the strait with Thailand. At Milan, we want to throw up more ideas for discussion with the participating nations,” said Commodore Arun K. Julka, naval officer in-charge (Andaman and Nicobar ).
Milan has also scored another first. A ship from the Mynamar Navy will also take part in the exercise. The military junta is not exactly known for its forthcoming nature. “It is possibly for the first time in 40 years that a ship has been sent out by the Myanmarese junta to take part in a global exercise,” Julka said.