PIRACY is not new to the shipping industry.
But the recent high-profile incidents in the Gulf of Aden involving Somali pirates who have seized ships and held vessels and crew for ransom have made many take notice.
Even maritime academies around the world, including the Singapore Maritime Academy (SMA) at Singapore Polytechnic, are spending more time educating students on the precautions to take if faced with pirates.
SMA's director, Mr Roland Tan, 54, said: 'Because of the Somali piracy issue, and piracy in general, those areas (of the syllabus) involving piracy and safety aspects have been beefed up.'
One tactic ships used was to spray water by the sides to let pirates know they were alert and that the pirates had lost the element of surprise.
What SMA will not teach its students is to fight the pirates. Because they are better armed, there can only be one winner.
Shafinas Djuanda, 17, a first-year diploma in nautical studies student there, has gone out to sea twice on a sail ship and a cruise ship as part of his course.
He said: 'If faced with pirates, we will do our best to co-operate with them. Fighting them would make matters worse because we are in their territory, so they probably know it better than we do.'
This article was first published in The New Paper on 9 Feb, 2009.