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Monday, 26 November 2012

Better times off Somalia, but tougher for the decision maker!

Looking at statistics on piracy off Somalia and following incidents reports it is clear that we have had a substantial decrease in the number of attacks as well as pirated vessels. This is promising and thanks to more than one change.

The fact that much more ships has for the last on years enforced the measures described in The best management practice (BMP4) in combination with that naval forces actions has lead to that the pirates has to put much more effort in every pirated a ship. This has during 2012 not only led to decrease in succeeded attacks, but also a drastic reduction in the number of reported attempts. This is however not the end to the piracy off Somalia, but I think it is reasonable to hope for much lower numbers of incidents (compared to 2009-2011) for the years to come.
An important question is what this new level of piracy does to the measures used. I don’t believe that ship and cargo owners are willing to spend as much as they have done during the last years, some measures has to go eventually. These waters are not the only risky ones and money saved can be used for protection else were or used for filling holes in a very tough business. This raises a lot of questions for the future:

Who will take the first step and reduce the protection measures or anti piracy activity off Somalia?
When will this happen, for how long can we have a low level of attacks and high level of protection efforts? Probably for some more months, but not for a year.

Based on what analysis, only historical or also forecast based on the development in Somalia?
But also; what will happen when we will have a high profile ship pirated after the guard is let down? Will it be considered a big thing or just an improbable event happening once?

Understanding risk, probabilities, uncertainties and risk perception is central in getting this right and uncertainties and risk perception is of much greater importance than the expected average level of attacks. This is hard on the analyst, but maybe even harder on the decision maker!

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

China - a future maritme player!

The statement from Chinas president, Hu Jintao, that China seeks "to be a maritime power" is very much in line with my blog-post a couple of weeks ago about maritime security being a strategic asset of its own.
The fact that the international seas (together with internet, space and international airspace) are by the US classified as one of the four important Global commons central for the future of modern living is of course also noted by China. The global commons are at least as important to Chinas as to the US.

Chinas drive to strengthen their navy is not a new concept. But this most recent statement from President Hu Jintao, speaking before the Communist Party Congress, is as I understand it the first time an official at the top has spoken so clearly about a bigger sea presence.
I personally also think that the last years anti piracy activity in the Bay of Aden and on the Indian Ocean have showed the Chinese leadership that it is possible to play an important role on the high seas under the flag of peaceful intentions. This will give China access to information about sea transport and other activity at sea that can help them making better use of their industry and be an even stronger international force in the future.