Beijing, May 9: Acknowledging Indian Navy’s effort in rescuing 24 Chinese sailors from a ship hijacked by Somali pirates, China today said it was working out a new security plan to protect its vessels and crew members from such attacks.
The Chinese vessel MV Fu Cheng (Full City), registered in Panama, faced a pirate attack 450 nautical miles off the Karwar Coast (of Karnataka) while it was on its way from Jeddah to Tuticorin port on May 6.
The Indian Navy swung into action and mobilised its aircraft and ships immediately after receiving an emergency call from the Chinese authorities and thwarted the attack.
"It was thus the navies of other countries, Turkey’s and India’s among them that helped to drive away the pirates and escorted the ship to safety," Chinese Vice-Minister of Transport Xu Zuyuan said.
This is for the first time top Chinese officials acknowledged efforts of Indian Navy to save the ship. Currently 51 sailors from China are in the custody of pirates, state-run China Daily quoted Xu as saying.
In all Somalian pirates are holding 338 sailors in custody from various countries besides 26 vessels in captivity.
So far this year, pirates have attacked 118 vessels and hijacked 20 ships. In the past week, they assaulted two ships with Chinese sailors on board.
Xu said his ministry is now trying to learn what other measures can be adopted to strengthen ships’ defences and mulling over options like paying security-service companies to station guards on board.
He said sailors should watch out for their own best interests when they seek employment.
"Many Chinese sailors now work for foreign shipping companies, but some are small. Once hijacked, these small foreign shipping companies just disappear at times, abandoning the hijacked ship and leaving sailors on their own," he said.
"Sailors should know more about a potential employer before signing a work contract. Government departments and non-governmental organisations, such as China Shipowners’ Association, can provide information to sailors about foreign shipping companies," he said.