Thursday, February 9, 2012

Somalia-Piracy-Under Reporting Incidents

An article was published recently by Bloomberg which can be found HERE ,and below the article we have posted some thoughts:
Private armed guards placed on merchant vessels to protect them against Somali pirates are under-reporting attacks, according to the European Union naval force patrol-ling in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean.
Security teams are concealing de-tails even though industry practice is to alert armed forces about any attacks or pirate sightings, Simon Church, EU Navfor's industry liaison officer, said Wednesday at a piracy forum in London.
"Security teams are shaping this on-board decision-making for reasons of liability, because of the action they may have taken to defend ships against attack," said Church, who works at a counter-piracy base in Northwood, England.
The number of armed guards stationed on ships travelling through the region jumped this year as pirate attacks soared to a record and countries including the U.K. changed laws to allow weapons on board. Somali pirates cost the shipping industry and governments as much as $6.9 billion last year, according to a One Earth Future Foundation report.
As many as half of all ships sailing through the region now use armed guards, the foundation said at the forum. That's up from 25 per cent earlier this year, and companies providing security earn $530.6 mil-lion annually, it estimated. A total of 42,450 vessels pass through the region annually, it says.
Church cited a "disconnect" between the number of attacks expected last year, based on military intelligence assessments of pirates' strength, and levels in 2009 and 2010. A "plausible argument" can be made that the increase in armed guards was the cause, he said.
Somali pirate attacks rose to 237 in 2011 from 219 in the previous year, according to figures from the London-based International Mari-time Bureau. No legal framework exists to establish how armed guards should interact with pirates and what happens if any attackers are killed or injured, Pottengal Mukundan, the bureau's director, said at the forum.
Military counter-piracy forces are reluctant to co-operate with private companies that provide armed guards, James Butler-Wright of Aegis Advisory said at the forum. The consultant helps companies assess and adjust exposure to risk.
"Private security is desperate to work with the military," said Butler-Wright, a senior maritime analyst at Aegis. "We get shut down pretty quickly" when seeking information from navies, he said."

Recent comments were made that private security firms have dropped off reporting out of concerns regarding the liability associated with their actions. I would propose that this statement is less than complete and certainly less than representative. Some other reasons (for discussion), why these reports have dropped off.

Number 1 - even though approaches and suspicious activities were reported to the centers, they were dismissed as being "fishermen", "groups of fishermen" or even "curious skiff operators." After a while, people that report in (similar to calling the police in a city) suspicious activity stop doing so because the reports are simply dismissed (just so and so acting out).

Number 2 - even though approaches or suspicious activities were reported to the centers, no information was returned back. In short, reporting into the centers was a one way street where private security companies were reporting in and getting little to nothing of value in return. I will personally vouch for at least one time where I reported in activity and, when I asked if there was anything else in the area, was told that the information was entered into the military system but could not be shared with private security companies (this was a witnessed report by the way).

Number 3 - even though reports went in, there were several instances where the reports were never acknowledged or posted where other companies could use them.

Number 4 - more than one instance is on the books where security went to report in and was informed that they (ship operator) did not want a report in because of insurance issues.

I would propose that the statements being made, while potentially having a grain of truth somewhere, is as much about projecting a point of view and deflecting the issue.

1 comment:

  1. Spot on!

    Louis B. Ebersöhn
    Independent Assessor Business Risk.
    Safety & Security Consultant
    Telefax: +27(0)21 554 4102
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    Skype: louis.ebersohn1