EUNAVFOR Commander: Piracy suppressed

Good news for shipping, bad news for pirates.

EUNAVFOR Commander: Piracy suppressed off Somalia

With the mandates for EUNAVFOR’s Operation Atalanta and NATO’s Operation Ocean Shield both due to expire in late 2016, Major General Martin Smith, Commander of Operation Atalanta, has told the media in Brussels that piracy off East Africa has been suppressed.

According to a report by the Kuwait News Agency, Major General Smith told reporters at a press conference that, “There are now 26 hostages but no ships and there have been no pirate attacks in the last six months”.

However, Major General Smith cautioned that although piracy had been held in check, the contributory factors were still in place and Somali pirates remained a threat to shipping. With the naval coalition forces due to pull out from the region at the end of 2016, this is mixed news for the shipping industry. While the lack of attacks is certainly good news, many companies are now re-evaluating their security arrangements on board, leading to a reduction in the number of armed guards on vessels and a weakening of what has been termed ‘the three pillars’ (military, private security, Best Management Practice) of security by some in the industry.

If one pillar falls, then the others will quickly follow and there are concerns amongst industry experts that some shipping companies may be becoming too complacent. Equally, there are concerns that some in the security side of the equation may be hyping up the potential for pirate attacks in order to retain business in what is becoming an extremely aggressive market for private security companies. Clearly, time will tell.

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