Friday, July 02, 2004

Malaysia- Pirates and Terrorists- More Perils on the Sea

World leades are really concerned about defences against maritime terrorism. One wouldn't think that big-time piracy is a 21st century problem. If pirates can hijack ships and kill or maroon their crews before repainting the vessels at sea and sailing into port under a new, "phatom" identify, why, then, couldn't terrorists? Terrorists could use the ships as bombs or bring contraband, human cargo, or even radiological material into port. For this and other reasons, the new regulations have been drawn u.

"A QUARTER of the world's entire maritime trade, including about half of all seaborne oil shipments, passes through the Malacca strait in South-East Asia, whcih at one point narrows to as little as one-and-half nautical miles." Officials are afraid that this important trade artery could be blocked by one or more giant tankers, or that the hijacked "phantom ships" could launch missles at a coastal city.

NATO met on Monday, June 28, in Istanbul. To guard against such a threat, the busy shipping route and choke point, the Bosphorous, was closed during the summit. They agreed to a package of anti-terrorism measures, including new defences against attacks on ports and shipping.

Already the U.S. Coast Guard has turned back almost two dozen ships on the first two days of implementation of America's new Maritime Transportation Security Act for non-compliance. Will all of these regulations make shipping commerce and ports safer? As a resident of a port city, I hope so.


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