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Thursday, 30 January 2014

What do we know about the conditions for maritime security?

I recently gave a talk about Civilian shipping in peace, crisis and war with a northern Europe perspective.

Europe is as all other regions of the world dependent on shipping for support of cargo in general, but also for essential goods such as specific types of food and medicine. Without this cargo the way of life as well as quality of life will be affected. This is clearly expressed in for example the US Quadrennial defense review report (Department of Defense, 2010).
Our ports are relatively stationary and can therefore without too much effort be included in the maritime security measures implemented by states to decrease the effects of potential security incidents. This is however a fairly new area to be handled structurally and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) didn’t get involved for real until the introduction of the ISPS code in 2002 (IMO, 2002). Also, the approaches are to a great extent borrowed from airport security which has its limitations when applied to ports and harbors. Therefore, there is still reason to be somewhat skeptical about the efficiency of the port security efforts of today and how much we know about how to assess the efficiency.

Shipping of today is an international business and a ship owner offers his services in the area in the world where he can make good money without too many uncertainties. The shipping in northern Europe has a relatively high quality because the money is good and the uncertainties are low.
But, in the event of a maritime crisis (or simply when maritime security no longer can be guaranteed) when there really is a need for maritime security efforts also including ships of the coasts off Europe:

ð  the uncertainties for ship owners also increase and the high quality ship owners will start operate somewhere else (because they can),
ð  therefore, the conditions for maritime security will drastically change, and
ð  we cannot prepare for maritime security based on the situation of today
So, what do we know about maritime security in time of crisis and based on which assumptions can we study it? Not based on the lessons from the waters off Somalia, that is an entirely different situation.

Department of Defense (2010) Quadrennial defense review report. Washington DC: United States of America Department of Defense.
IMO (2002) The International Ship and Port Facilities Security (ISPS) Code. Safety of Life at Sea, Chapter XI-2. London: International Maritime Organisation.

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