Korean ships passing through the Gulf of Aden will be obliged to build a "citadel," a bullet-proof anti-piracy muster zone, and deploy security personnel onboard, a government official said Monday.
About 280 Korean ships pass through the gulf, traveling back and forth about twice a year on average, and ships are regularly seized by Somali pirates.
The citadel is a space where sailors can hide until they are rescued when pirates storm their ship. It will have emergency food storage and communications equipment.
Around the time last Friday when the Korean Navy rescued the freighter Samho Jewelry from pirates there, the Malaysian Navy captured seven Somali pirates who had attempted to hijack a Malaysian chemical carrier and rescued its 23 crewmen. Their rescue operation ended in just two hours because the crewmen had hidden in the ship's muster zone, isolating themselves completely from the pirates.
A diplomatic source said, "A rescue operation is too dangerous when it's hard to separate hostages from their kidnappers."
But shippers are worried about the costs. It costs W200-300 million (US$1=W1,121) to build an anti-piracy facility, and more than W500 million to make it bullet-proof.
Only ships whose deck is less than 8 m above the surface of the water will be required to build the citadels as pirates rarely attempt to climb taller ships.
"Once a ship is hijacked, its owner will have to pay an enormous ransom as well as huge costs to repair the ship, so building a muster zone is aimed at preventing further loss," the official said.