Blog Analysismaritime piracy

Don't let your guard down now!

Dutch Navy VPD detachment. (Dutch Ministry of Defence)

(BRUSSELS2) “ Despite recent encouraging news, the time is not right for scaling back efforts” ! The message to members of the shipping industry is even more powerful because it was sent jointly by the three main anti-piracy forces in coalition – the EU (Eunavfor Atalanta), NATO (Ocean Shield) and the coalition led by the Americans (CTF 151). If the drop in piracy incidents is very real (the International Maritime Bureau has just announced a 54% drop in piracy worldwide) and continues, month after month, pirate hunters fear to see the owners of commercial vessels relax their efforts and abandon some of the security measures taken. Measures which may indeed seem cumbersome to shipowners, costly in financial terms as well as logistics or personnel on the ship.

Tactical success is reversible

For the deputy commander of Operation Atalanta, Italian Rear Admiral Gualtiero Mattesi: “We have before us a tactical but reversible success. It is essential that the pressure on pirates and their business model is maintained, if not amplified. The strategic context such as the situation in Somalia allowing pirates to act has not yet fundamentally changed”. “En joining forces, anti-piracy efforts are now more effective and can do more than any single ship, navy, country or organization he continues. Corn " even with all this military presence, the efforts of our naval forces cannot guarantee the security of the region ". The application of best practices – Best Management Practices” which is now in version 4 (BMP4 to download here) is therefore more important than ever.

A message addressed as much to industry as to governments

A fear already expressed several times by several interlocutors which is addressed not only to the world of industry but also to governments. The same Rear Admiral Mattesi had already warned, during a recent seminar held during the summer in Paris: “ Recent progress is reversible if the sources of piracy are not tackled. BMPs and the capabilities of forces in the area must be maintained while strengthening the capacity of regional states on the ground. It will take time ". And Admiral Jacques Launay, head of Eucap Nestor, also confirmed this to us. Eucap Nestor is not an exit strategy for the anti-piracy operation at sea, at least not only. “ Once we have seen the combination of these effects on land, we can then consider reducing the sail area on the high seas.»

Marines of all countries, unite?

The fear also expressed, mezzo vocce, by many (navy) officers, those responsible for defense or the fight against piracy, is that States, taking advantage of its good results, are gradually thinking of reducing the number of personnel on place of the different navies. And, in the process, certain equipment or fleet renewal programs. An option which is not theoretical at a time when the weight of debt and budgetary restrictions weigh on all European or Western state budgets. For the navies of the different countries involved, these operations are, in fact, not only the demonstration of their know-how and their efficiency but also of their concrete usefulness in the service of the economy and the population of their country. Witness the good response rate from the Dutch in a recent survey who estimated that we could cut the new JSF plane and a number of army expenditures but not the fight against piracy (read: In the Netherlands, withdrawal into oneself becomes the norm). A significant umbrella, in the battle which is beginning in each country between the “Financiers” on one side, and the different General Staffs on the other, even between the General Staffs, in these times when exercise with ferocity, the budgetary “cutter”…

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Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).