The growing pirate threat off the Nigerian coast, dangers that remain from Somali maritime marauders, and the key role played by professional Private Maritime Security Companies PMSCs, were three of the most important concerns addressed in the latest edition of Maritime TV’s series on piracy mitigation strategies, AdvanFort Company President William H. Watson has noted.
Watson, who participated in the program with Donna Hopkins, U.S. State Department Coordinator on Counter Piracy and Maritime Security, and maritime lawyer and author John A.C. Cartner, also stressed the key role played by the State Department and other U.S. government agencies, singling out Hopkins, who also heads the U.N Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, for praise.
“Having recently applauded before the U.S. Congress the use of private contracted armed security teams as a ‘game changer’ in the effort to combat the transnational organized crime of piracy,” Watson said, “the State Department’s own efforts to enlist countries, private enterprise and non-government organizations from around the world in the fight is nothing short of inspirational.”
“With Donna Hopkins at the helm, the professionalization requirements of the relatively new PMSC community have emerged center stage, reflecting the fact that—as she pointed out—governments and ship owners, operators and crews are growingly cognizant of the need to maintain and improve ‘the quality of standards and training; clear guidance on the rules of the use of force, and accountability to the clients, to their employers.’”
Watson concluded: “As I mentioned during the Maritime TV program, AdvanFort looks forward to even greater levels of official oversight of the maritime security industry, as well as by organizations like the Security Association for Maritime Industry (SAMI), as vetting is critical, something we embrace wholeheartedly. As I said, we at AdvanFort are even looking forward to those processes becoming even tighter.”
In her comments on Maritime TV, Hopkins singled out AdvanFort’s role, saying that the U.S. company “really is leading the way,” adding: “Keep that bar high; that is really important.”
Coordinator Hopkins also focused on recent developments in disrupting Somali pirates’ business model, and how some of those lessons might be brought to bear in West Africa.
Pointing to the growing threat of transnational organized crime in fomenting piracy and other illegal maritime activity, she confirmed that the U.S. government is watching “with a fairly high degree of interest” those vessels increasingly used by some PMSCs as so-called “floating armories.”
This, Coordinator Hopkins pointed out, was due to questions about the inherent safety of floating armories, their vulnerability to corruption, or their diversion by malignant actors, including terrorists.
(The latest Maritime TV broadcast can be viewed at www.PiracyDaily.com)
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