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A BBC documentary to be broadcast on Monday evening highlights the plight of the crew of Advanfort's Seaman Guard Ohio held in India for nearly two years, as they await their fate at the hands of the Indian courts.

Until relatively recently, Somali pirates were the scourge of East-West trade, operating in a huge swathe of the Indian Ocean and hijacking vessels with fearsome, and often drug-induced, zeal. Looking back to March 2009 when there were near-daily attacks, the pirate threat was eventually driven back in 2013 by the assembled brawn of heavily armed private security personnel, onshore security forces, and Combined Naval Task Forces 150 and 151.

A permanent security presence is required in a stretch of the Singapore Straits where pirates boarded or attempted to board six vessels on 21 and 22 August, says security firm Dryad Maritime.

In the third such incident this year, the Singapore-registered product tanker, Joaquim, was boarded by an unknown number of perpetrators while underway in the Malacca Strait and had her cargo of fuel oil siphoned off, the ReCAAP Information Sharing Centre reported.

The most recent ReCAAP ISC half yearly report has revealed the scale of the sharp rise in fuel siphoning and hijacking incidents in the first half of the year and also revealed some patterns in the practice.

The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has reported that so far this year 250 crew members have been taken hostage, 14 assaulted, 10 kidnapped, nine injured and one killed in incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships.

As if it is not enough for shipping in the Mediterranean that it is being seen as a migrant rescue service, there are now warnings that those same vessels could be harbouring Islamic State (IS) terrorists.

The Sailors’ Society has launched a new Crisis Response Centre in Durban to support seafarers affected by piracy throughout sub-Saharan Africa.

A product tanker was attacked by pirates off Malaysian coast last Thursday, but the crew were reportedly safe.

Meridian Global’s counter-piracy teams may now operate aboard vessels flying the Panama flag, following an arduous vetting process that validated the quality of the US-based private maritime security company (PMSC).

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