Rare and beautiful: common sense from a Navy officer

Something as rare as it is beautiful in Lloyd’s List today. An interview with someone talking common sense about piracy. Made all the more exquisite coming from an ex-Navy officer.

The Gulf of Aden Transit Group’s newly appointed chief operating officer, Gerry Northwood, says the risk-reward ratio is still balanced in favour of piracy and it will only take one hijacking to excite a whole new stream of financial backers for such attacks. Despite a drop in activity conditions ashore still favoured piracy. He comes from commanding naval forces acting against Somali piracy so he is well placed to question whether naval groups have been a success and whether they can last.

“Their enduring nature is disputable and the cost is significant,” he said. “Therefore their future is debatable. Naval task groups are costly and there needs to be a real will behind them and therefore with defence budget cuts they are not really happening this year. The onshore attack from EU Navfor last year did much for morale and promoting a message but it did not really do much damage to pirate operations as supplies are mostly held back in towns and villages.”

He went on to say that in the pirate heartlands the influence of the Puntland and Mogadishu governments was limited.

“It is surprising how well organised the area is for a failed state that is largely ungoverned,” he said. “Hobyo is pirate city with a profusion of relatively new buildings and all kinds of activity. It is not a failed state, just a state that we wouldn’t recognise.”

Keep up your guard, follow Best Management Practices and keep pressure on the navies to stay there because piracy hasn’t gone away. It’s just taking a breather while it reviews strategy and tactics. Read the full interview in Lloyd’s List or ask him for a copy of his speech.

 

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