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Wednesday, 8 August 2012

A Swedish contribution to operation Atalanta for 2013

HSwMS Carlskrona. Photo: Anna Norén/Combat Camera

In the beginning of July the Swedish government decided to, in 2013, send the Royal Swedish Navy's HSwMS Carlskrona to the waters off Somalia to join Operation Atalanta for the second time.
The decision isn’t especially controversial and is an important contribution, especially considering the low number of ships included in the operation (at the moment 5 ships and 3 aircrafts). So every ship counts and really increases the area covered and ships supported by the operation. I also think (as many others) that many other good things come out from the experience of having European ships working together on task like this. Off course Sweden should be a part of this again!
From my perspective an interesting question is how operation Atalanta best supports the shipping through the region. The UN defined tasks off course: the protection of vessels of the WFP; the deterrence, prevention and repression of acts of piracy and armed robbery off the Somali coast; the protection of vulnerable shipping off the Somali coast; and the monitoring of fishing activities off the coast of Somalia. But doing this EU NAVFOR gets a lot of information about the pirates, some which is time critical and some that is more general. Is this information used and passed on as effectively as possible?
Photo: Swedish Armed Forces
Doing interviews with ship operators I can see that the information they get about piracy is important in their risk management and I think there is room for more information, especially if it is more than raw data on incidents. The incidents reports are only snap shots of the piracy activity. If EU NAVFOR could use their information (from land, sea and air) I'm sure they could present a much more comprehensive picture of the piracy activity which could help ship operators with route planning and deciding between different risk control options.
Ship operators also would like to have a more integrated cooperation with navy units in order to improve the exchange of experience in regards to ship security and pirate’s modus operand.

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