Taking a leaf out of US Navy SEAL’s ruthlessly-perfect operations tackling piracy off the Somalia coast, India is raising a special commando unit on the similar lines, especially to be deployed on the government-owned merchant vessels plying on the dangerous sea route.
The unit under the Central Industrial Security Force- a wing of Indian Paramilitary - would be tasked to secure the North-West Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden from piracy. Sources said under this special drive, 1,500 commandos will be trained to fight pirates.
“The first batch of 150 commandos undergoing training is expected to be ready for deployment in the next 2 months. Recently, the final phase of training, examining the efficiency of preventive measures, started for the first batch. They are also being taught international maritime laws to act in accordance with the rules and coastal state requirements in international waters,” sources said.
It is learnt that CISF commandos will be trained in close combat- hand-to-hand combat, underwater operation, air and land fight, apart from general training in sea diving etc.
“The focus of the training is to eliminate the threat in certain situations without using the weapon. They are also given practical training at sea by trained Army, Air Force and Navy professionals. After completion of training, they will tackle piracy,” sources said.
In the last three years, 124 ships were hijacked by the pirates. Though the number of vessels hijacked came down in 2011, piracy attempts have continued unabated in the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia and 237 attacks were made on the vessels. While the government had deployed an Indian Naval Warship in 2008, the Ministry of Shipping mooted the idea of having trained commandos on board.
The ministry also advised private merchant ships to hire armed security guards, after risk assessment, to deal with serious danger to ships from the pirates. It has also issued criteria for engaging a private maritime security company to prevent hijacks.