Monday, November 26, 2012

Shipping Minister Pressured on Hostage Exchange for Pirate Captives from Tanker

Indians Consider Options Whilst Freight Vessels Stiffen Defences
Shipping News Feature

INDIA – SOMALIA – It is well over two years since we reported the hijack of the bitumen tanker Asphalt Venture and the subsequent retention of seven of her crew after the ships subsequent release despite the payment of ransom. The pirates stated at the time that only the release of pirates held captive in India would secure the freedom of the 3884 dwt freighter as they were ‘angry’ at the deaths of their cohorts who were reportedly killed by the Indian Navy. Now the Indian Shipping Minister has come under attack from Kerala Chief Minister, Oommen Chandy over the unanswered demand.

Two of the captive crew hail from Kerala and Mr Chandy has indicated he sees no hope of a satisfactory conclusion that precludes release of the accused pirates but despite his pleas on humanitarian grounds the government of Maharashtra, the Western state holding the men for trial seem unlikely to relent, at least until the case is heard.

Meanwhile the technological battle to make larger container carriers and tankers as impervious as possible to pirate attacks continues. This week GAC Maritime Security announced it has entered into a strategic partnership with Mobile Defense Systems LLC to provide PirateFence™ anti-grapple razor wire to protect vessels from attacks by potential hijackers.

PirateFence™ is a modular-based perimeter protection system with an innovative anti-climb and grapple-resistant component. The coil is applied in sections to avoid any attempts made by attackers to peel the system away in its entirety; a solution to a common problem with many existing systems. It fortifies a vessel against a system failure and buys more time for the crew to counter any threat.

The system uses Razor Ribbon® razor wire with a galvanized steel core and sharp razor blade-like edges, but its easy-to-use 'roll' design ensures that the risk of crew injury is virtually eliminated during installation or transportation of the cylinder units. The entire PirateFence™ system is purpose-designed to withstand harsh salt-water conditions.

This strategic partnership with Mobile Defense Systems LLC is the latest in a series of ventures for GAC Maritime Security, formerly GAC Protective Solutions and itself a partnership between global shipping, logistics and marine services provider GAC Group and AKE Group, having teamed up earlier this year with non-lethal defence system provider Unifire to offer its SEASERPENT Anti-Pirate Water Cannon System, along with SPS Citadel Access Protection from Intelligent Engineering (IE).

Photo: Courtesy of EU Navfor.