Patrolling by navies has put Somali pirates under pressure
By Sunil K. Vaidya, Bureau Chief
On Board INS Mysore: Piracy in the Indian ocean is on the wane but issues on land in Somalia need to be resolved to completely eradicate the problem and create safe passage for a large part of the world‚Äôs maritime traffic that passes through the trade route of the Gulf of Aden, according to a senior Indian naval officer. Praising Oman‚Äôs role during an interaction with media on board the guided missile destroyer, INS Mysore, Rear Admiral Anil Kumar Chawla, Flag Officer Commanding Western Fleet of the Indian Navy, said: ‚ÄúOman is playing a key role in bringing stability in Somalia.‚Äù
He also pointed out that Oman‚Äôs ports, especially Salalah in the south of the Sultanate, was very handy for the Indian naval vessels dealing with the problem of piracy in the area. ‚ÄúLike naval forces of the other countries in the world, the Indian Navy also provides safe passage to merchant ships in in the Gulf of Aden by escorting ships from the start to the end point of a corridor considered risky,‚Äù he pointed out.
‚ÄúSince Indian naval vessels are patrolling the Gulf of Aden to counter piracy attempts, the navy has managed to capture 100 pirates and foiled over 40 piracy attempts in the last five years,‚Äù Chawla said.
Talking about some of the Indian sailors still held captive by Somali pirates, he said that the hostages were taken on land and only diplomatic efforts at the government level can get them released.
He reckons that the pirates were under tremendous pressure due to the patrolling of the area by various naval forces, including the Indian navy.
The Indian navy, meanwhile, has sent four ships – INS Mysore, Tarkash, Tabar and Aditya – on the Gulf tour. ‚ÄúWe did joint naval exercise in Kuwait and now will carry out a joint naval exercise with the Royal Navy of Oman (RNO),‚Äù Rear Admiral Chawla said.
He revealed that the manoeuvre with the RNO was part of the biennial naval exercise ‚ÄòNaseem Al Bahr‚Äô (Sea Breeze). ‚ÄúThis [exercise] will give an opportunity to naval officers from both sides to understand each other by working side by side,‚Äù he pointed out.
The naval officer revealed that the Indian navy maintains close and friendly ties with all navies in the Gulf and has been regularly conducting exercises with many of them. ‚ÄúThe Indian Navy is also privileged to provide training and hydrographic support to several navies in the region,‚Äù he added.
India and Oman are members of the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS), a voluntary and co-operative initiative among 35 countries of the Indian Ocean Region, which has served as a forum for sharing information and cooperation on maritime issues.
In reply to a question, Rear Admiral Chawla revealed that 22 officers from RNO were currently being trained in India and one naval officer from India was in Oman as part of a training exchange programme.
When asked, he denied that the current situation in the region had anything to do with the Indian navy tour of the Gulf and exercise with Kuwaiti and Omani navies. ‚ÄúThese manoeuvres are planned much in advance and done routinely,‚Äù he stressed.