Warning issued over æcopycatÆ piracy
A committee from the United Kingdom’s House of Lords has issued a report that warns “if the piracy problems of the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean are not robustly tackled, there will be copycat piracy elsewhere on the world's shipping lanes adjacent to failed states or regions where a government's writ fails to reach.”
The report said ship protection could be improved by putting troops on ships.
The European Union Committee of the House of Lords looked at the issue of piracy and the EU’s EUNAVFOR Somalia – Operation Atalanta, which has been in operation since December 2008.
Operation Atalanta was the EU’s first-ever naval Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) operation and the first military CSDP operation in which the United Kingdom has taken a leading role.
Originally given a one-year term with a budget of 8.3 million euros, the EU council late last year extended its mandate until Dec. 12. It operates in a zone comprising the south of the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, the Somali basin and part of the Indian Ocean, including the Seychelles, an area in size comparable to that of the Mediterranean Sea.
The House of Lords committee said Operation Atalanta “has made a strong contribution to combating piracy, in particular protecting World Food Program ships and coordinating with other maritime forces in the area.”
But it said there are a number of areas that need improvement and require action.
“Naval vessels and their crews are very expensive resources in short supply. With more surveillance aircraft the Atalanta fleet could be far more effective and efficient,” the report said. “Permanent availability of a tanker would prevent Atalanta vessels from having to return to port on a regular basis solely to refuel.”
The United Kingdom and European Union “should insist that the WFP charter faster, larger and more modern vessels” because the small, slow ships used by the program “makes them especially vulnerable to pirate attacks. As a result they require greater military protection and resources.”
The report adds that it would be “even more efficient for military contingents to be placed on these vessels rather than having warships and their crew shadowing each delivery. It should be a condition of the award of a WFP contract that, when requested, the flag state allow these vessels to carry Atalanta military forces on board.”
The report said troops placed on commercial shipping should be given specialized training. It agrees with U.K. policy that private security guards should not be placed on commercial shipping because of the increased risks to crew and ships.
The committee also took the insurance industry to task, saying it “is not taking sufficient responsibility for ensuring that commercial shipping transiting the area complies with readily available, tried and tested procedures to reduce the risk of capture by pirates. At a minimum the industry should impose increased insurance premiums on ship operators who do not comply.
“We agree with the increasingly robust action taken against pirates by Atalanta forces. There is a need to change the perceived risk/reward ratio for pirate activity. We welcome the EU's agreements with Kenya and the Seychelles to prosecute pirates, and the negotiations now taking place with other states in the region. We wait to see the number of successful prosecutions that result.”
The report cautions, however, that “there will be no solution to the problem of piracy without a solution to the root causes of the conflict on land in Somalia. We support the EU's efforts to deal with Somalia's problems by building up the security sector in line with democratic norms, providing humanitarian assistance and assisting the authorities in Somaliland and Puntland to strengthen their coast guards.” ' Chris Dupin