Combatting Piracy

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Under the aegis of the Indian Seafarers Federation (ISF), the National Union of Seafarers of India (NUSI) and the Maritime Union of India (MUI) organized a one-day seminar on “Piracy and Armed Robbery” on 7th April, 2010. Capt. M. M. Saggi, Nautical Advisor, Government of India inaugurated the seminar. The two key speakers were Capt. H. Khatri, Dy. Director General of Shipping, who spoke on the “Role of the Maritime Administration” and Mr. Jim Mainstone, UK based Security Expert, spoke on the topic “The threat from piracy and current trends” and “How to reduce ship vulnerability”.
More than 104 participants representing 75 Indian and foreign flag companies participated in the seminar.
The following is the gist of the interactive session:- 

Some of the suggestions or action points needs to be taken up by the social partners and the Maritime Administration and some by the Government of India.
The action to be taken up by the social partners and the Maritime Administration are as follows:-
1. An anti-piracy course to be developed. Taking the views of the Naval Authorities in developing the course will add the required expertise to the course. The contents of the course should be standardized and the same should be made available to be conducted through in-house company systems, training institutes etc.

2. A CD on anti-piracy measures should be made available during the briefing of seafarers when they join the ships and also during onboard company training modules.
3. The issue of manning was also discussed. In this connection we are enclosing herewith the IMO resolution on Principles of Safe Manning, wherein it is very clear that while many aspects needs to be taken into consideration in the finalization of the safe manning, one of the key aspects is to look into the need to undertake emergency duties and responsibilities. It was pointed out during the seminar that in some cases of pirate attacks the seafarer onboard the ship came to know only after the pirates were already in the bridge house. This was due to inadequate manning which restricted the watch. So it was stressed by the group that manning levels should be adequate enough and not just safe manning but also operational to take care of the emergency situations including piracy.
4. The ISPS code should be further strengthened to cover the aspect of piracy also.
5. In case a ship is taken over by the pirates in which there are Indian seafarers the social partners i.e. the shipowners and the seafarers unions expect more support from the Government of India. The support should also include putting pressure on the flag state of the ship etc.
6. The Maritime Administration should also be more vocal and forceful with the Government of India in seeking support for combating the menace of piracy.
7. The co-ordinates of the Naval patrol should also be available to everybody and not only to the memberlines of INSA, MASSA and FOSMA.
8. During the hijack situation the company, the seafarers unions and the Maritime Administration should interact with the families to provide moral support and also counsel them. Financial assistance should be made available to the families of the seafarers by the company.
9. After undergoing the traumatic experience when the seafarers come back there needs to be procedures for;
 i) Systematic help which should include medical and psychiatric counseling. This should not be a cosmetic exercise f one or two sessions but more elaborate. Individual cases need to be reviewed and followed up periodically
ii) The services of the DG approved Doctors can also be used for this purpose.
iii) Companies should be encouraged to give extra financial incentives to the hijacked seafarers.
iv) The companies should provide jobs to the hijacked seafarers on priority after exhaustive proper counselings and medical help.
10. A twenty-four hour helpline service should be made available in India. The helpline number should be publicised extensively so that Indian seafarers can contact to seek guidance on issues related to piracy.
The action to be taken up by the Ministry of Shipping and the Government of India.

1. It was a general view that the Government of India is really concerned about the issue of piracy. The involvement of Indian Navy has given the necessary support to Indian seafarers in the Gulf of Aden. The Indian Navy has shown leadership on many occasions and is the most sought after convoy by the ships of different flags. But it also maintained that the tanker crew chiefs failed to act promptly to minimise the spillage. No date has been set for the Supreme Court hearing.
2. More needs to be done and more Indian Naval ships needs to be deployed in the pirate-infested region.
3. It was the view of the seminar that while countries are having the Naval patrol and are doing their own bits in isolation, the practical and long-term solution is only through the unified command of the United Nations. The Government of India should emphasise this aspect and strongly advocate for patrolling under the United Nations mandate.
4. For seeking a unified approach the Indian Government should take the support of the major seafarers labour supplying countries like Philippines, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Ukraine, China, Croatia etc.
5. The United Nations should also look into possibilities of effectively administering “No Sail Zones” in the borders of Somalia.
6. Coast Guards of the respective countries should also be approached.
7. International efforts on legalities of prosecution should also be strengthened in dealing with arrested pirates so that the whole anti-piracy exercise should not become a farce.
National Union of Seafarers of India (NUSI) and the Maritime Union of India (MUI) took the initiative in organising the well attended industry seminar on piracy in the interest of seafarers in particular and Indian shipping in general. The very fact that the Hon. Prime Minister of India, Hon. Governor of Maharashtra and the Hon. Minister of Shipping were concerned about the issue of piracy in Somalia reflects the seriousness of their intent in combating the menace of piracy. Given the concerns of Government of India about the issues, the participants were of the firm view that the Government of India should also be informed about the gist of the seminar in New Delhi.
We are sanguine that the Directorate General of Shipping will take into account the deliberations, suggestions and action required in the interest of the Indian shipping.
In response to above mentioned coverage, the users from all over the world responded quickly and criticised the South Korean Court orders and demanded a quick a decisive action by Indian Government and also suggested ways to pressurise the South Korean Government.

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