The 25th Maritime Conference (SMM) kicked off in Hamburg yesterday (4th September) with a separate conference on Maritime Security & Defence. Conference focused on roles of the military, political and civilian forces in countering worldwide sea terrorism and how they might co-operate in EEZ protection and the policing of high sea trade routes.
Professor Chris Bellamy from Greenwich University gave an asymmetrical insight into the real security challenges affecting trade and lines of communication. There was a lot of discussion over coffee on why Navies, politicians and civilian providers of maritime security services seem unable to connect; achieve collective aims to combat maritime terrorism and concurrent challenges concerning safety and the reduction of crime at sea.
The highlighted problem from the audience was how can Naval personnel gain sufficient understanding of civilian and industrial ways of working to stop the Men and Women in Blue dominating proceedings especially as all the evidence is that Naval budgets and their maritime security capability will decline over the next 10 years or so whereas the need to protect offshore assets, in West Africa, off Brazil and the South China seas for example will exponentially increase.
And all of this set against a backcloth of resurgent shipping activity especially in the Cruise Liner sector.
There is a final dichotomy.
Smaller navies and coastguard forces are mostly equipped with Corvettes and Offshore Patrol Vessels –albeit many lack endurance and are poorly supported. But these are the vessels most suited to maritime security operations. However the voices of these smaller navies rarely penetrate the cacophony of the USA and EU. Yet these are the organisations that are least willing to provide maritime security forces. Ah Hem!