Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Future of Atalanta and Booming Private Security

The British House of Lords has commended Atalanta for attacking alleged pirate land bases and recommended that Atalanta does not end in 2014, but should again be extended for at least another four years. They also recommended the number of ships Britain contributes to Atalanta should increase; however, due to financial constraints Britain no longer has any frigates patrolling around the Horn of Africa.

The House of Lords have also revised shipping practise and UK-flagged ships are now allowed to use armed guards, a policy that is becoming more common in many different countries. The governments of Belgium and Italy have both authorised the use of armed guards and private maritime security for ships bearing their flag.

Dutch and Swiss shipping companies have admitted to using private armed security on board ships as they sail around the Horn of Africa. Switzerland is not part of Atalanta.

All in all, the use of private security in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean is sky-rocketing. More than a quarter of ships travelling through the area have stated that they have private security on board, but the number will actually be greater than that. As pointed out by Australian James Brown in a recent report and lecture, shipping companies flying the flag of a country that does not allow armed guards on ship, would not tell the truth.

Brown also talks about the many 'private navies' that now work in the area and also the practise of states renting out their navies to shipping companies.

Therefore, along with Operation Atalanta, CTF 151, Operation Ocean Shield and the independent navies, there are now more than 140 companies and 18 floating armouries operating in waters near the Gulf of Aden.