A couple of centuries back, the shores of the Southern Arabian gulf were known as the piracy coast. Merchant ships passing through the narrow Straits of Hormuz, plying between Mesopotamia and India, were prey to those pirates who would dart out of hidden coves and raid merchant shipping.
Till one day in early January 1820, when a strong sea and land expedition by the exasperated British succeeded in defeating the pirate stronghold at Ras Al-Khaimah. And led to the signing of a truce between the British and the Arab chiefs, which virtually eradicated piracy in the Gulf. The piracy coast came to be known as the Trucial coast after this truce.
Vela International Marine Limited is a fully owned subsidiary of Saudi Aramco, which is based in Dubai in the U.A.E. It is engaged in the business of transporting crude oil and refined products manufactured by Saudi Aramco, to the rest of the world. It owns several Very Large Crude Carriers or super tankers as they are called. The Sirius Star is a VLCC with a capacity of carrying 2 million barrels of oil and it was yesterday hijacked off the Somali coast by pirates and has been taken to the Somali port of Eyl which is the pirates stronghold. Negotiations are reportedly underway for the safe release of the 25 crew members as well as the ship.
The Somali pirates are doing this just for the money. They have latched on to a cash cow and will not give it up easily. The failed Somali state makes the task of prevention next to impossible. India has already started playing a role in protecting our shipping, but it needs to be enhanced and co-ordinated with other friendly naval powers. Because after all, what is the purpose of a navy if it can't afford protection to merchant shipping? That is one of the primary functions of an armed force, protecting civilians. And piracy is just another form of terrorism.