Training Coastguards is Key to Tackling Piracy

 Training and mentoring of coastguards in Africa, Middle East, and South East Asia is essential if coastal nations are to have effective control over their Territorial Waters and Economic Zones, says leading maritime security company Maritime Asset Security & Training Ltd (MAST).

Furthermore, if Western Governments continue to cut back on defence spending, these nations will be increasingly reliant on their own organic resources to provide security in international waters adjacent to their territorial limits.

Gerry Northwood OBE, COO of MAST, said: “While the UK Chamber of Shipping has recently reported that Indian Ocean piracy is under control, it should not be forgotten this is directly attributable to the success of international maritime military deployments to the Indian Ocean, and because commercial shipping has taken positive and decisive action to protect their vessels through Best Management Practices 4 (BMP4) and armed guards.

“However, the report rightly warned that there is still much to be done ashore if a resurgence of piracy in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean is to be prevented. Somalia remains a politically fragmented state and in places, the lack of governance, and law and order, means that the ‘pirate breeding grounds’ are still intact.”

He added: “This is not just about Somalia. Coastal nations in other piracy prone areas such as West Africa and South East Asia are being encouraged to police their Territorial Waters and Exclusive Economic Zones, and will benefit from mentoring in how to do so more effectively.”

Richard Battrick, Director of Training, Compliance and Ordnance Management at MAST, said: “There remains a paucity of multinational naval assets which will be further affected by defence budget cuts in 2015 as states continue to identify savings in the wake of the global recession.”

“Non-military solutions such as national coastguard agencies require improved capabilities and capacities if they are to become a sustainable solution. An integrated approach, including international public-private cooperation to maintain border security and safeguard the maritime flank is the way forward.”

He added: “While avoiding military levels of expenditure, to be effective, it is important that coastguards are able to implement a more sophisticated and layered application of maritime security. This requires that they can efficiently manage a range of capabilities, which include surface vessels, helicopters and fixed wing surveillance aircrafts. Networked operations centres should coordinate these assets and share critical information.

“Well trained and professionally proficient personnel are essential to achieving this.”

Northwood added: “Coastal nations are becoming increasingly cognisant of the need to be able to exploit and protect their maritime flank. Some nations, such as Oman, Egypt, Indonesia and Malaysia, have been highly pro-active and have already made significant steps to improve their maritime capabilities.

“However, there remains much to be done to ensure coastal states improve their surveillance capabilities, and are able to efficiently co-ordinate assets. In particular, it is important that air and surface assets are regarded as essential yet complimentary capabilities.”

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