'Taking arms against pirates shouldn't become the norm'
The current focus on armed support for vessels transiting high risk maritime areas in Africa, the Middle East and elsewhere should not become the norm, GAC Solutions’ Christer Sjödoff has told delegates from the shipping and offshore industries who gathered in London to debate long-term, effective ways to tackle the threat of sea crime.
Speaking at the ‘Lunch and Learn’ event hosted by GAC Protective Solutions, Sjödoff said that sole reliance on private maritime security companies is not a long-term solution to maritime security threats around the world.
GAC Protective Solutions - a strategic partnership between global shipping, logistics and marine services provider GAC and maritime intelligence agency AKE - detailed recent developments in sea crime across East and West Africa. Law firm Stronachs LLP, which provides legal diligence services to banks and equity providers in the oil and gas industry, also delivered an insight into the legal responsibilities and threats of operating in high-risk areas.
Sjödoff, GAC’s group vice president solutions, says: “We hosted the Lunch and Learn session to address the longer-term issues and developments of sea crime globally, and to ensure that non-lethal preventative solutions are being seriously discussed.
“While there is value in providing armed support on some vessels transiting high risk areas, we feel strongly that this approach should not become a widespread industry norm. Rather, we should ensure that owners and operators have access to the latest intelligence regarding current and developing patterns of sea crime, as well as the means to proactively harden their vessels and train all crew members ahead of any voyage, both of which are fundamental to combating sea crimes.”
AKE’s maritime director, Rick Filon, says: “As an industry, we have rushed to arm ourselves against a violent threat, which is understandable. However, this is neither a proportionate response nor a sustainable long-term solution. Further, the simple presence of arms on board may even lead to an escalation of violence.
“Whilst we must always remain vigilant, it is clear that effective risk mitigation and the use of preventative solutions provide a global, cost effective and safe solution that is proportionate to the threat of sea crime.”
GAC Protective Solutions provides onboard crew training, pre-voyage preparation, defensive configurations including the latest citadel door protection from Intelligent Engineering and remotely-operated water cannon systems from Unifire, and real-time intelligence alerts on global maritime security issues.