Navy plans to beef up efforts to fight piracyThe Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs announced yesterday it will toughen its anti-piracy measures in cooperation with India to prevent Korean ships falling victim to pirates, as more Korean ships have become prey to hijackings in the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea.
According to the ministry, Korea and India will sign a memorandum of understanding in March as part of the effort.
The ministry officials said the MOU would allow the Korean government to increase its escort of merchant ships in the region from 10 to 20.
The ministry also will expand its “piracy-prone zone” to all of the Indian Ocean instead of just the southern part and the Gulf of Aden.
As part of the plan, the Cheonghae Naval Unit will install a monitoring system by April allowing it to receive security alerts sent by Korean ships passing through the zone.
The ministry also plans to require owners of commercial vessels to establish panic rooms for their crews to hide in if they are attacked by pirates.
The ministry plans to finalize the regulations by February and all Korean commercial vessels would be required to follow the regulations 20 days later.
Commandos of the Cheonghae Naval Unit successfully rescued all Korean crew members of the Samho Jewelry from Somali pirates on Jan. 21, killing eight pirates and capturing five others. The captain, though, was seriously injured during the attack. Three special forces soldiers were also injured.
The ministry said it will conduct anti-piracy drills four times a year instead of twice a year. The National Intelligence Service will also give tips to crew members on ways to prevent piracy.
By Kim Mi-ju [firstname.lastname@example.org]
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