“Don’t Let Your Guard Down”, Counter-Piracy Forces Warn

From left to right: the Korean frigate Wang Geon (Combined Task Force 151), the FS Marne (Atalanta) and the Dutch frigate Evertsen (Ocean Shield – NATO)

East Africa’s “Big-Three” warned Tuesday that despite a recent downturn in global piracy incidents, shipowners should not let their guard down.

In a recent report published by the International Maritime Bureau it was revealed that there has been a 54% drop in global piracy during the first half of 2012 compared to 2011. The significant drop can be heavily attributed to a decrease in piracy incidents off the coast of Somalia, which has been pushed mainly by the work of military forces in the region and self-protection measures taken by commercial shipping.

“We currently see a tactical and reversible success. It is of utmost importance that pressure on Somali pirates and their business model is maintained and even increased as the strategic context, the situation in Somalia allowing for pirates to act, has not yet changed” said Deputy Operation Commander Rear Admiral Gualtiero Mattesi, “International Navies and all merchant vessels transiting the High Risk Area, need to remain vigilant and uphold their respective responsibilities to support the fight against piracy.”

European Union Naval Force Somalia – Operation Atalanta, NATO and Combined Task Force 151, aka the “Big Three”, say that by joining forces, counter piracy efforts are more effective and can achieve more than any one ship, navy, organization or country working alone. Even with all this military presence, the efforts of the naval forces cannot guarantee safety in the region, EUNAVFOR said in a statement. It is for this reason that CTF 151, NATO and the EU remind all ship-owners, operators and managers to continue to educate and train mariners in both the threat and how to mitigate it.

The “Big Three” wants to reminds us that the anti-piracy booklet Best Management Practices version 4 (BMP4) provides useful updates for masters in implementing protection measures to deter piracy. It is based on lessons learned from ship’s masters and can be downloaded from the NATO Shipping Centre and EU NAVOR/Maritime Security Centre – Horn of Africa websites (www.shipping.nato.int, www.mschoa.org) where you can find information about the latest pirate attacks and where they occurred.