Home Contact Us  

Navy - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#1653, 22 February 2005
The Unabated Menace of Sea Piracy
Vijay Sakhuja
Research Fellow, Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi

The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) 2004 annual piracy report released recently has exhibited the gloomy state of menace of sea piracy in the world's oceans. There were a total of 325 piracy attacks on shipping in 2004. Although, this figure is lower than the reported 445 attacks in 2003 the most harrowing part of the report is that the number of crew killed increased to 30 as compared to 21 in 2003. Besides, eighty-six shipping crew were kidnapped and pirates had demanded ransom for their release.

According to Captain Pottengal Mukundan, Director of the ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB), which runs the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre, "Although the decline in the number of attacks is to be welcomed, there is concern that in some key hot spots the situation has deteriorated?. There is an increase in the attacks in the Malacca Straits. Violence in the attacks in Nigeria has increased. Attacks in Lagos accounted for the highest number reported in a single port. Balikpapan, a major oil port in Indonesia had the third highest number of attacks reported. Overall, vulnerable vessels such as tankers accounted for over a quarter of all attacks".

Indonesia continues to be the main hotspot recording 93 piratical attacks and the Malacca Straits ranked second highest with 37 incidents. Many of these attacks were serious and involved vessels being fired upon and crew kidnapped for ransom. As many as 36 crew were kidnapped, four killed and three injured in the Malacca Straits. In the Indian context, Chennai and Kandla continue with their dubious distinction of piracy prone seaports. Interestingly, Bangladesh waters witnessed significant reduction with only 17 attacks as compared with 58 in 2003. Sri Lanka remained relatively free from piracy attacks, which are normally carried out by the LTTE.

The 2004 annual piracy report has once again highlighted the continuing menace of piracy at sea particularly in the Indonesian waters and the Malacca Straits. In July, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore began joint patrols of the Malacca Straits, and extended cooperation to include possible hot pursuit into each other's territorial waters. However, the attacks continued unabated. In November 2004, Teo Chee Hean, Singapore's Defence Minister, had mooted Regional Cooperation Agreement on Anti-Piracy as a step towards Asia's initiative to combat piracy and deter terror strikes in the Malacca Straits and surrounding seas by linking communications among navies of 16 countries included Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Bangladesh, China, Japan, India, South Korea and Sri Lanka. Teo had noted "A significant feature... will be the setting up of an information sharing centre, which will provide more accurate reports of incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships in the region".

Although this Singapore initiative is a welcome development, it appears to undermine the existing Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC) located at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, that coordinates dissemination of piracy related incidents to regional maritime forces and shipping at sea. Its relevance has been well demonstrated by the capture of MV Alondra Rainbow, a 7000-ton Panama registered vessel, belonging to Japanese owners apprehended by the Indian Navy. The PRC had announced through a worldwide broadcast that pirates had captured the vessel and was expected to turn up in any Indian port to discharge cargo. What followed was a drama on the high seas leading to the arrest of pirates who are now serving jail term in Mumbai.

During the last few months, the Malacca Straits has been a centre of tension between the South East Asian states and the United States. In April 2004, Admiral Thomas Fargo, Commander-in-Chief, US Pacific Command, (CINCPAC), announced that the US military was planning to deploy Marines and Special Forces troops on high-speed boats in the Malacca Straits to combat terrorism, proliferation, piracy, gun running, narcotics smuggling and human trafficking in the area. The deployment was being conceptualised under the Regional Maritime Security Initiative (RMSI). In response, Malaysia had reacted to this initiative and had noted that the US should get permission from regional countries as it impinged on their national sovereignty. Likewise, Indonesia too was averse to the US initiative and wanted that the US must consult regional countries before any effort to fight terrorism in Southeast Asia. Singapore, a close US ally in the region, had supported the US initiative.

It is evident that regional countries are sensitive of incursions in their maritime territories and careful about who is allowed to transgress it. Some even consider it as a challenge to their sovereignty. This has been well demonstrated during the Tsunami disaster when the Indonesian government set a deadline asking all foreign militaries to vacate their territory. What is needed is a more dedicated effort by regional maritime forces to undertake intensive sea patrolling particularly in the Malacca Straits.

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
IPCS Columnists
Af-Pak Diary
D Suba Chandran
Resetting Kabul-Islamabad Relations: Three Key Issues
Can Pakistan Reset its Relations with Afghanistan?
The New Afghanistan: Four Major Challenges for President Ghani
Big Picture
Prof Varun Sahni
Understanding Democracy and Diversity in J&K
When Xi Met Modi: Juxtaposing China and India
Pakistan?s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: The Inevitability of Instability

Dateline Colombo

Asanga Abeyagoonasekera.
Sri Lanka: Moving Towards a Higher Collective Outcome
The Importance of Electing the Best to our Nation's Parliament
Sri Lanka: Toward a Diaspora Re-Engagement Plan
Dateline Islamabad
Salma Malik
Pakistan's Hurt Locker: What Next?
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
India-Pakistan Relations in 2015: Through a Looking Glass
Dhaka Discourse
Prof Delwar Hossain
IPCS Forecast: Bangladesh in 2015
18th SAARC Summit: A Perspective from Bangladesh
Bangladesh in Global Forums: Diplomacy vs. Domestic Politics
Eagle Eye
Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
India-US: Significance of the Second Modi-Obama Meet
Has President Obama Turned Lame Duck?
Modi-Obama Summit: Criticism for Criticism?s Sake?

East Asia Compass
Dr Sandip Mishra
India-Japan-US Trilateral: India?s Policy for the Indo-Pacific
China-South Korea Ties: Implications for the US Pivot to Asia
Many ?Pivots to Asia?: What Does It Mean For Regional Stability?
Himalayan Frontier
Pramod Jaiswal
Nepal?s New Constitution: Instrument towards Peace or Catalyst to Conflict?
IPCS Forecast: Nepal in 2015
Constitution-making: Will Nepal Miss its Second Deadline?

Prof Shankari Sundararaman
IPCS Forecast: Southeast Asia in 2015
Indonesia's Pacific Identity: What Jakarta Must Do in West Papua
Modi in Myanmar: From ?Look East? to ?Act East?
Sushant Sareen
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
Islamic State: Prospects in Pakistan
Pakistan: The Futility of Internationalising Kashmir

Looking East
Wasbir Hussain
Myanmar in New Delhi's Naga Riddle
China: ?Peaceful? Display of Military Might
Naga Peace Accord: Need to Reserve Euphoria
Maritime Matters
Vijay Sakhuja
Indian Ocean: Modi on a Maritime Pilgrimage
Indian Ocean: Exploring Maritime Domain Awareness
IPCS Forecast: The Indian Ocean in 2015

Nuke Street
Amb Sheelkant Sharma
US-Russia and Global Nuclear Security: Under a Frosty Spell?
India's Nuclear Capable Cruise Missile: The Nirbhay Test
India-Australia Nuclear Agreement: Bespeaking of a New Age
Red Affairs
Bibhu Prasad
Countering Left Wing Extremism: Failures within Successes
Return of the Native: CPI-Maoist in Kerala
The Rising Civilian Costs of the State-Vs-Extremists Conflict

Regional Economy
Amita Batra
India and the APEC
IPCS Forecast: South Asian Regional Integration
South Asia: Rupee Regionalisation and Intra-regional Trade Enhancement
South Asian Dialectic
PR Chari
Resuming the Indo-Pak Dialogue: Evolving a New Focus
Defence Management in India: An Agenda for Parrikar
Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: Implications for Asian Security

Spotlight West Asia
Amb Ranjit Gupta
Prime Minister Modi Finally Begins His Interaction with West Asia*
A Potential Indian Role in West Asia?
US-GCC Summit: More Hype than Substance
Strategic Space
Manpreet Sethi
India-Russia Nuclear Vision Statement: See that it Delivers
Global Nuclear Disarmament: The Humanitarian Consequences Route
Nasr: Dangers of Pakistan's Short Range Ballistic Missile

The Strategist
Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Jihadi Aggression and Nuclear Deterrence
The Blight of Ambiguity
Falun Gong: The Fear Within

OTHER REGULAR contributors
Gurmeet Kanwal
Harun ur Rashid
N Manoharan
Wasbir Hussain
Rana Banerji
N Manoharan

Ruhee Neog
Teshu Singh
Aparupa Bhattacherjee
Roomana Hukil
Aparupa Bhattacherjee


Browse by Publications

Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Naxalite Violence 
Suicide Terrorism 
Peace & Conflict Database 
Article by same Author
Microbeads and Microfibre: A Big Challenge for Blue Economy

Short Sea Shipping in Bay of Bengal Takes Baby Steps

Plastic Litter: The Challenge at Sea

Marine Mammal Stranding: Myth, Mystery and Facts

Dhow Trade in the North Arabian Sea

Maritime Issues: Proactive Initiatives

Towards a North Arabian Maritime Partnership

Forecast 2016: Indian Ocean Politics and Security

Indian Ocean: Modi on a Maritime Pilgrimage

Indian Ocean: Exploring Maritime Domain Awareness

IPCS Forecast: The Indian Ocean in 2015

Indian Ocean: Why India Seeks Demilitarisation

India and Maritime Security: Do More

Asia and the Seas: Looking Back to Look Forward

Indian Ocean and the IORA: Search and Rescue Operations

Pirates Prefer Energy Cargo

Maritime Terrorism: Karachi as a Staging Point

Xi Jinping and the Maritime Silk Road: The Indian Dilemma

Drug Smuggling across the Indian Ocean: Impact of Increasing Interceptions

Maritime Silk Road: Can India Leverage It?

Indian Ocean: Multilateralism Takes Root

BRICS: The Oceanic Connections

India-EU: Exploring Maritime Convergences

Rim of the Pacific Exercises (RIMPAC): Thaw in China-US Tensions?

Indian Ocean Navies: Lessons from the Pacific

Y! MyWeb
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2017
 January  February  March  April  May  June  July  August  September  October  November  December
 2016  2015  2014  2013  2012  2011  2010  2009
 2008  2007  2006  2005  2004  2003  2002  2001
 2000  1999  1998  1997

The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.

Subscribe to Newswire | Site Map
18, Link Road, Jungpura Extension, New Delhi 110014, INDIA.

Tel: 91-11-4100-1902    Email: officemail@ipcs.org

© Copyright 2017, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.