SHADE: Piracy still a threat in Gulf of Aden, Indian Ocean

Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) and EU Naval Forces (EU NAVFOR) welcomed delegates to the 41st Shared Awareness and De-confliction (SHADE) conference on counter-piracy in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean in Bahrain on November 22.

The diversification and proliferation of wider maritime security threats in the Gulf of Aden and the Southern Red Sea, which prompted the establishment of the Maritime Security Transit Corridor (MSTC), was a focus of discussion at this year’s SHADE.

As highlighted by recent events, the threat of piracy persists. The development by EU NAVFOR of a Standard Tactical Instruction to help coordinate multi-national responses to piracy events within the region was therefore timely, CMF said. The conference also considered the scope of this instruction and how it might best be introduced through developing a 1-2 day activity to enable multiple nations to practice and confirm their ability to resolve a pirate attack.

The ongoing partnership between CMF, EU NAVFOR and all other agencies and actors in the region remains vital in ensuring the safe passage of vessels and the development of a safe and secure maritime environment. This has been demonstrated by recent events in the region, with the successful detention of six Somalia-based suspected pirates by EU NAVFOR, following a failed attack on the 55,000-ton containership MV EVER DYNAMIC, 300 miles east of Mogadishu and fishing vessel GALERNA III in the same vicinity on the following day.

The fact that such a quick resolution was achieved is a testimony to the ongoing commitment by all involved and reinforces actions taken earlier this year with the rescue and release of the OS35 by the Chinese Navy, according to a statement issued by CMF.

As threats and risks in the Gulf of Aden, the southern Red Sea and Bab-el-Mandeb waters become increasingly dynamic, the need to achieve close and effective collaboration between all stakeholders requires constant training, alongside the development of appropriate, acceptable and well-understood policy and procedures, it was concluded during the conference.

Speaking on completion of the SHADE conference, Jakob Paaske Larsen, Maersk Line Company Security Officer, said:

“Global trade depends on the sea lanes in the Gulf of Aden and the Northwest Indian Ocean to be secure, something that cannot be taken for granted. The threat of piracy is still present in the region as evidenced a few days ago by a pirate attack on a container vessel, and the subsequent intervention and arrest of the suspected pirates by an EU warship.”

“To A. P. Moller – Maersk the continued presence and involvement of CMF, MSCHOA, UKMTO and the many independent force contributors is essential. Our participation here at the 41st SHADE meeting has only reinforced this view, and we extend our thanks to all international organisations and countries who have put upon themselves to help secure the freedom of navigation on this key trade route from the Far East to Europe and the United States,” he added.

The SHADE initiative began in 2008 as a way of coordinating activities with regards to counter-piracy operations and self-protection measures in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean. Key aspects of the SHADE conference are the exchange of views and information sharing among all stakeholders.

SHADE is also used to discuss and coordinate merchant shipping through the MSTC, aerial coverage of the piracy high-risk area by maritime patrol aircraft and coordinated efforts to deal effectively with the piracy threat.

Through the SHADE process, in early 2012 China, India and Japan agreed to coordinate their merchant vessel escorts in the ITRC, and by June 2012, South Korea had also agreed to do the same.