Competitiveness: Thai navy fight pirates vandalizing Tsunami warning buoys to keep beaches safe

  • By Stingray, Thai Intel’s national security journalist

An earthquake just hit Indonesia, causing a region wide Tsunami scare. But things is not the same as in 2004 when a Tsunami hit. Since then, an early warning system had been put up, consisting mainly of 100s of electronic buoys, placed in the oceans of the region.

A great deal of safety depends on the system. But how well is the system doing?

  • On and off for the past 5 to 6 years, local Thai press have been reporting of Thailand’s navy anti-piracy activity in the Indian Ocean and the Straits of Malacca, and part of that fight, is in protecting tsunami warning buoys.

As part of the Thai press reports, several Thai naval officers have been quoted by the local press saying that the Thai navy is in cooperation with other ASEAN navies, and also the USA Pacific Fleet, in fighting to protect the Tsunami warning system. That system, consists of expensive buoys.

The system, was rushed into effect after the devastating 2004 Tsunami. Initially facing delays in implementation, the system had been put in place and went operational, however, the problem of piracy hit the system.

Currently, no information is available to the public, to the extent of the damage to the system.

Wikipedia reports:

The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake was an undersea megathrust earthquake that occurred at 00:58:53 UTC on Sunday, 26 December 2004, with an epicentre off the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia. The quake itself is known by the scientific community as the Sumatra–Andaman earthquake.[3][4] The resulting tsunami is given various names, including the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, South Asian tsunami, Indonesian tsunami, and Boxing Day tsunami.

The earthquake was caused by subduction and triggered a series of devastating tsunamis along the coasts of most landmasses bordering the Indian Ocean, killing over 230,000 people in fourteen countries, and inundating coastal communities with waves up to 30 meters (98 ft) high.[5] It was one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history. Indonesia was the hardest-hit country, followed by Sri Lanka, India, and Thailand.

However, again, as the system of Tsunami warning buoys went into place, pirates, began to steal the buoys. The buoys system, extends from the Indian Ocean to the South Pacific, involving hundreds of buoys. The situation of stolen buoys became so damaging and acute, the USA Pacific Fleet began operations aimed specifically to protect buoys from piracy.

DNA reports the latest:

Pirates vandalise expensive tsunami buoys

Published: Monday, Feb 27, 2012, 8:45 IST

By Kumar Chellappan | Place: Chennai | Agency: DNA

Piracy in the Bay of Bengal, Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean, has reached such an extent that scientists of the ministry of earth sciences are hiring the services of private armed guards to protect their expensive tsunami data buoys and bottom pressure recorders installed in the region.

“Both Indian Navy and Coast Guard have told us about their inability in protecting these tsunami buoys on a round-the-clock basis. We can also understand their limitations because they have much important work to attend to,” a top scientist in the ministry told DNA.

The disclosure comes after the shoot out from an Italian oil tanker resulting in the death of two fishermen off the Kerala Coast.

The Italian crew claim that they were forced to open fire because their ship came under attack by pirates. “We have deployed 12 data buoys along the Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea. In December 2010 itself we had lost two of the data buoys. Replacing or repairing a single data buoy costs more than Rs45 lakh,” said Dr MA Atmanand, director, National Institute of Ocean Technology, Chennai. He said the Makran Coast along the Arabian Sea was a safe haven for pirates.

The top scientist agreed that the entire Indian Ocean region, including the Bay of Bengal was infested with pirates.

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