MUMBAI: In one of the coordinated incidents of piracy, seven Indian vessels with nearly 100 people on board have been hijacked off the Gulf of Aden and Somalia coast. All of these are mechanised sailing vessels (MSVs) – and no contact have been established so far with the pirates.
The Directorate General of Shipping (DG-Shipping) gave the names of these vessels as MSV Al Kadri, MSV Al Ijaz, MSV Faize e Osman, MSV Sea Queen, MSV Nar Narayan, MSV Vishwa Kalyan and MSV Krishna Jyot.
These ships were hijacked over the weekend. “These are reported missing and presumed hijacked by pirates. These vessels have been reportedly operating in or near the pirate-infested area near the Gulf of Aden/Somalia region . Ninety-seven lndian seafarers are reported to be on these vessels,” the DG-Shipping’s office said in Mumbai. Unconfirmed reports said that that the number of sea-farers could be more than 120.
As a precautionary measure, in the light of these reported hijackings, the directorate has issued directions prohibiting the trading of mechanized sailing vessels south and west of line joining Salalah and Male, with immediate effect.
The Indian Navy, which is also involved in anti-piracy operations, have sought details from the DG-Shipping.
Reports reaching here said that these vessels have been anchored last in the rebel territory of Kismayo in Somalia where they loaded cargo into their boats. But moments after leaving the port, pirates captured them. Most of the hostages belong to the Gujarat coast.
The growing incidents of piracy has become a matter of concern. In January this year, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) has expressed its deepening frustration at the seeming impotence of the international community to address the continuing piracy crisis in the Indian Ocean, with around 1,500 seafarers having so far been taken hostage for ransom, often for months at a time, in spite of the comprehensive measures that ship operators have taken to defend their crews.