Combined Maritime Force (CMF) has recently visited the Dubai-based UK Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) to discuss security issues with global maritime industry representatives, attending the Maritime Information Exchange Vessel Operators Meeting (MIEVOM). MIEVOM is a valuable opportunity for merchant vessel owners to discuss ways to collaborate more closely with military naval officers from the international task forces working to maintain safe seas and pirate-free waters off Somalia.
The MIEVOM programme enabled the speakers to remind all parties that countering piracy is a collaborative effort between industry, militaries and wider regional security partners.
During his visit, Rear Admiral Tatsuya Fukuda JMSDF, Commander of Combined Task Force 151 (CTF151), was told that, by reporting to the UKMTO in Dubai, ship owners can have their vessels monitored throughout their transit of the High Risk Area. Advised to also register their transit with the Maritime Security Centre, Horn of Africa (MSCHOA), masters are able to discuss any specific risks associated with their vessel and its planned route.
- During the presentations, merchant vessel owners, masters and insurers were all encouraged to ensure maintenance of Best Management Practice version 4 (BMP4) for vessels transiting the region. These basic guidelines, if all ships complied, would improve the effectiveness of counter piracy efforts in the area.
- Ship masters and owners were strongly advised to continue using the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC) across the Gulf of Aden. The successful outcome of a piracy attack within the IRTC proved this necessity. It has been seen that within minutes of any master’s report that the vessel is under attack, naval air assets can be on the scene in order to assist.
- Delegates were also reminded that several of the recent attacks on vessels have been on vulnerable ships, whether because of their location or speed or the lack of Ship Protection Measures. The speakers reiterated the importance of deterrents, such as razor wire, along with extra protection for the bridge.
Robert Buckham, representing Gulf Energy Maritime, noted: “If pirates are unable to board a ship, they can’t hijack it.”
Upon conclusion of a busy programme in the UAE, RADM Fukuda said: “It was useful to see the work of the UKMTO, as the organisation makes a very valuable contribution to maritime security.” On the outcome of the MIEVOM conference, he added: “Compliance with the recommendations is the industry’s contribution to the shared effort to deter and defeat pirates.”