Keep off Somalia, Directorate general tells seafarers

By Asad Cabdullahi Mataan

PANAJI: In light of the recent piracy incident off the coast of Somalia, the directorate general of shipping has warned cargo and commercial vessels not to transit through the Gulf of Aden.

Vessels that decide to operate their ships in these waters should keep a distance of more than 200 nautical miles from the Somalian coast and failure to adhere to the instructions would be a risk to the vessels, director general of shipping Malini Shankar told TOI. Shankar said an increase in piracy attacks could lead to an increase in insurance costs but assured seafarers and the shipping community that piracy attacks had not been recorded in Indian waters.

“Since piracy has become active again, we have advised our ships and foreign ships with Indian crew not to go near Somalia,” Shankar said.

“We reiterate our advisory that piracy, which was in a lull for four years, seems to be active again. We have even specified what places are to be avoided. There is no need to revise the line of high risk area on India’s western side because piracy has not moved to India’s coast. It is still along the African coastline,” Shankar said.

There are 4 lakh seafarers registered with the directorate general of shipping of which 1.6 lakh are currently working on board cruise vessels and cargo ships. However, lack of requisite skills has become a hurdle for many of the registered seamen to take up employment on board ocean-going vessels.

“More and more Indian seafarers are finding it difficult to get jobs offshore. Skilling is a big issue for them,” Shankar said.

Source: Times of India