On Monday, 11 November 2013, the EU Naval Force Operation Atalanta Flagship, HNLMS Johan de Witt, has hosted the Contact Group of Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS) during the Counter Piracy Week in the port of Djibouti. Government representatives from all over the world took the opportunity to see how the EU Naval Force and other counter piracy forces are contributing to the fight against piracy.
The 150 delegates from over 20 countries visited the Netherlands warship, alongside Djibouti. The guests were welcomed on board by the Force Commander of EU counter piracy Operation Atalanta, Commodore Peter Lenselink, from the Royal Netherlands Navy.
In his opening speech, Commodore Lenselink emphasized the good cooperation between all those involved in countering piracy. “Uniquely we are working together to take counter piracy to the next level”, stated the Force Commander, characterising the EU Comprehensive Approach and cooperation with the different counter piracy Task Forces and nation states in the region.
After the welcome, the participants were given an extensive briefing on Operation Atalanta as well as a capacity briefing of HNLMS Johan de Witt including a tour of the warship, which was called “a maritime unit that breathes counter piracy” by the Force Commander in his opening speech.
The day concluded with a reception in the hangar of the EU Naval Force Flagship, in order for all delegates to exchange their knowledge and experience on counter piracy.
The Commanding Officer of HNLMS Johan de Witt, Captain Frank Foreman, looked back on a productive day. “Our ship has more to offer than only the extensive operational counter piracy capabilities. Today was a great example of the multifunctional benefits of this ship. We are capable of providing a platform to host events like the one today, in order to work on counter piracy from a different perspective”, explained the Captain.
Speaking about the event, Captain Peter Olive, Chief of Staff of EU Naval Force Operation Headquarters, stated: “The Pirate business model has been fractured by ongoing, and tightening pressure applied at sea by the EU Naval Force, other counter piracy forces, Independent Deployers and the regional states working ever closer together. However, it has not been broken. The conditions, opportunity and motive remain in place for resurgence in piracy activity if the international response or industry self-protection is lessened. Pirates are still active at sea and even one vessel taken now would be a tragedy but also re-prime the piracy business model.Military forces are key in successfully suppressing piracy and continue to closely follow the pirates as they seek to adapt their tactics to evade military forces and prey on vulnerable shipping.Together, military forces, maritime industry managing vulnerability and legal finish have created the space in which other actors, working in support of the Somali authorities, can begin to address the causes. We commend the work of all military forces engaged in the fight against piracy. We welcome the progress that has been made in Somalia since the 2012 elections, and we note with some optimism the increasing role for intelligence and information sharing being played by new regional intelligence coordination centres which are complementing the established roles of international police coordination centres like INTERPOL.”
The Counter Piracy Week is an initiative by the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS), an international group which aims to facilitate the discussion and coordination of actions amongst states and organizations to suppress piracy off the coast of Somalia.
During this week, the involved parties will gather to discuss the future of counter piracy in the region.
Press Release, November 13, 2013; Image: EU NAVFOR