Unregulated floating private armouries carrying combatants of certain countries are a matter of concern and can have serious security implications for the country including infiltration of terrorists that can lead to 26/11-type attacks, Navy Chief Admiral DK Joshi warned on Tuesday.
Addressing the annual Navy Day press conference, he also sought a "reversal" of high risk areas for merchant ships plying in the piracy prone zones, saying such an extension in these zones has resulted in incidents such as the killing of four Indian fishermen by Italian marines near Kerala coast.
"Floating armoury is a matter of very serious concern. This is entirely unregulated... This has very serious security implications for us including the infiltration of terrorists.
"...If there are unregulated arms and ammunition on a vessel, the existence of weapons is not known as also where guards are transferring them and this could lead to such a situation on anybody's soil," Joshi said when asked if unregulated floating armouries can lead to a 26/11 attack.
The navy chief was talking on the issue against the backdrop of seizure of the American floating armoury MV Seaman Guard Ohio off the coast of Tuticorin in Tamil Nadu.
He said the government had also received reports about the presence of "combatants from some countries who on a temporary basis take up these employments and become private armed guards."
Asked if he meant that these combatants are from Pakistan, Joshi skirted a direct response, saying, "I am referring to what I am referring to."
He said over the years, these armouries providing escort to the merchant vessels plying in piracy prone areas have become a "loose-knit structure" and the "unregulated manner these ships are operating, there is no track of which ship is coming and what guards it has, what arms does it have and where they are going."
He said like the merchant vessels operating under the International Maritime Organisation framework, these floating armouries have to be brought under the regulation and all the littoral states must be aware of the identity of such ships, the number of weapons and guards present on them.