Vizhinjam: Mariners on the Indian Ocean are wary of not just choppy weather but also pirates. The menace persists, especially towards the African side, despite precautions by regional maritime powers. To ride out such threats, shipping agencies go the extra mile as was done to a bulk carrier, "African Piper ", that called on the port here the other day.
Six quintals of barbed wire were used to create barriers and fencing around the ship bound for Kenya as a preventive measure against possible attack by sea pirates during the course of the journey.
The barbed wires were tied around the vessel as it docked at the Vizhinjam Port for crew change on Monday.
The vessel which came from Vietnam has already departed for Kenya and its next stop is Mombasa Port. Enroute the possibility of a pirate attack is high.
Taking the security of the ship into account, Thiruvananthapuram-based Capital Holdings Company procured barbed wire from Mumbai. It is similar to the concertina wire used for fencing along the international border. But the barbed wire used in the ship has portions with razor edge which can cause wounds even with a touch. Long barriers of barbed wire that jut out from the sides of the ship make scaling it sides impossible even with hooks.
According to the officials of the ship agency, the chances of pirate attacks in all zones of Indian Ocean is high. Pirates come in small speed boats, surround the ships, climb up, open indiscriminate firing and create a reign of terror. They often force the captain to change the direction of the ship.
The pirates often take away valuables including cash, ornaments and other goods found on the ship, at gunpoint. Some sneak into the ship and hide to gain illegal entry into other countries. Such persons who are caught without proper documents, often become a liability for the vessel authorities.
The under-construction Vizhinjam International Seaport on the Arabian Sea is located south of the Kerala capital Thiruvananthapuram. So far 112 ships have called here for crew change. On Monday, three ships including African Piper were docked here primarily for crew change.