Please find below the link to the CHAM International conference in Lisbon, 12-15 July ’17. Its main theme will be: “Oceans and Shores: Heritage, People and Environment”
The 1st GMC conference Society and the Sea will be run on the 15th and 16th of September 2016. There is a strong line of up papers (http://www.gre.ac.uk/society-and-the-sea/conference-programme) and the call has been extended until the 1st August (http://www.gre.ac.uk/society-and-the-sea/call-for-papers)
We are pleased to share with you the first issue of our new Greenwich Maritime Centre newsletter, The Mean Time. You can view it here. The newsletter will be published twice a year, with maritime updates and news from the GMC and the University of Greenwich.
Please come along to next Greenwich Maritime Research Seminar
Tomorrow, 27th April 2016
National Maritime Museum, Seminar Room
Dr Michael Talbot, University of Greenwich
‘To protect the coasts from pirate brigands’: Ottoman anti-piracy measures in the Eastern Mediterranean, 1718-70
This paper will examine the development of deterrent and protective naval patrols by the Ottoman navy in the Aegean and Levant seas against domestic pirates, Maltese corsairs, and European privateers. These were partly in response to demands for protection from Ottoman provincial subjects and partly due to a developing sense of maritime territoriality.
Glen O’Hara, author of Britain and the Sea since 1600 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), is coming to Greenwich on talk about ‘The Fight against Seaborne, Oil and Beach Pollution in Post-War Britain’.
Date: Thursday 19 May 2016 at 6.00 pm.
Venue: University of Greenwich, Room QA 075 (Edinburgh Room), Queen Anne Court Old Royal Naval College, Park Row, London SE10 9LS.
The talk is free – you can register at Eventbrite or just turn up.
‘The Fight against Seaborne, Oil and Beach Pollution in Post-War Britain:
Pollution was not a high priority in the first years after the Second World War. Britain’s coastline and estuaries were often littered with wartime detritus: many inshore and inland waters were highly polluted or indeed toxic and lifeless. Biodiversity and levels of marine life had both fallen rapidly in many areas. A mix of austerity and localism meant that concerted action was almost impossible. But the damage done by the east coast floods of 1953, pressure exerted by increasingly-popular pressure groups pushing for better access to safer amenities, and the shock of oil disasters such as the wreck of the Torrey Canyon in 1967, helped created a new, integrated and urgent sense of ‘the environment’. This involved both accounting for and addressing the manifold dangers of Britain’s polluted seas, and began the long centrally-directed cleanup that continues into the twenty-first century.
Photo: Oil covered shells, International Maritime Organization ©. Reproduced from Flickr under a Creative Commons Licence .
Glen O’Hara is Professor of Modern and Contemporary History at Oxford Brookes University. He is the author of Britain and the Sea since 1600 (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010). For further information about Glen, please go to http://www.social-sciences.brookes.ac.uk/People/Academic/prof.asp?ID=600. Follow him on Twitter @gsoh31
This talk is part of the History & Environment series presented by the Raphael Samuel History Centre in conjunction with the University of Greenwich, Dept of History, Politics and Social Sciences. This year’s series theme is Britain and the Sea. To find out more about the RSHC History and Environment Seminars in general, please contact George Yerby email@example.com. For more information on these Greenwich RHSC seminars, please contact: Vanessa Taylor V.J.Taylor@greenwich.ac.uk
The twenty-second New Researchers in Maritime History Conference will be hosted by the University
of Greenwich in the historic Old Royal Naval College. The conference provides a unique opportunity
for emerging scholars to present their work to a supportive audience in one of the world’s most
iconic maritime settings.
Applications to present will be accepted from both research degree students and by independent
scholars. The organisers welcome contributions that address all aspects of maritime history.
Anyone interested in attending the conference without presenting a paper is warmly invited to register via our booking site . http://newresearchersmaritimehistory2015.eventbrite.co.uk
The registration fee includes a welcome reception including keynote address on the Friday evening;
lunch and refreshments throughout the day on the Saturday plus conference materials.
£35 standard fee; £30 student fee; presenters attend for free.
Contact the conference secretariat at: +44 (0)20 8331 7612 or firstname.lastname@example.org
By Lisa Otto
South Africa became involved as a counter-piracy actor rather late in the day, after repeated calls for it to make a contribution to the scourge that was then facing the continent – Somali piracy. Despite the rise of the Somali pirate problem coming in 2007, it was not until the outward ‘ballooning’ effect of the pirates’ reach began to extend southwards towards the Mozambican Channel, that South Africa’s interest was suitably piqued.
In December 2010 Somali pirates struck off Mozambique’s coast, and the South African Department of Defence responded to this attack on its immediate neighbour by deploying warships to Mozambique. This effort was known as Operation Copper and constituted the very beginning of South Africa’s engagement in counter-piracy efforts beyond endeavours of verbal condemnation.
Not acting on its own recognisance, but rather generously acquiescing to Mozambique’s request for assistance, piracy was suddenly thrust from the periphery of South Africa’s international agenda to a more central position than it previously enjoyed. Albeit one that did yet not necessarily beget much strategic priority.
In February 2012, South Africa’s engagement in counter-piracy became formalised through a Memorandum of Understanding signed in partnership with Mozambique and Tanzania, under the auspices of the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Subsequently the countries have seen some success, notably in April 2012 when the partnership was put to use to fend off a pirate attack in Tanzanian waters, in collaboration with the European Union (EU) deployment.
Beyond this, Operation Copper has also worked at training efforts as a capacity-building mechanism with neighbouring countries. More recently, South Africa has begun to focus its attentions the Gulf of Guinea also, with the navy being active there in the last two years.
At the time of South Africa’s entrance as an actor in the counter piracy environment, maritime piracy in Somalia had been a problem of global concern for some years. By 2011 this experience had led to a number of experts alluding to the emergence of a new hotspot for Somali pirates in Southern African waters. Given pirates’ dynamic nature and ability to adapt to the challenges they faced, the presence of international forces in the Gulf of Aden would force pirates further south in pursuance of their victims. The trend known as ballooning saw Somali pirates venture far afield.
It was this thinking that underpinned a theory that Southern Africa would soon face dealing with the pirate scourge. This notion, coupled with the need for security in the maritime domain in light of resource discoveries off the coast of Tanzania and Mozambique as well as the active ports at Dar es Salaam, Beira and Maputo seemed to necessitate action. This, along with the successful pirate attacks in Mozambican waters in 2010, the threat must have seemed quite real to South Africa, and potentially also posed a risk to its interests off Southern Africa’s eastern coastline.
Yet, the Somali pirate scourge dwindled significantly in 2012 and 2013 as a number of activities and developments both on land and at sea paid off. Beyond this, Somali pirates have not managed to sustain their campaign further into the Indian Ocean, and ultimately southwards, given logistical challenges. The absence of a safe haven outside Somalia, as well as having to go without the intricate support network in Somalia that provide the very foundations for their activities worsens matters. Establishing new such networks (which would require an environment devoid of effective governance comparable to the erstwhile Somalia) is a task more difficult in the Southern African region given its comparative condition of peace and security. Another option would be the use of a mother ship based in international waters, but this too would require access to a regular supply of food, water, fuel and other items, usually provided by on-shore networks contracted by pirate groups.
Given this and the limited defence budget in South Africa, it may seem curious that the country committed of its limited naval assets to these endeavours. In fact, the allocation to Operation Copper alone in the 2013 budget was R585 million (US$56 million) from a total annual budget of R40 billion (or US$3.9 billion).
Says defence analyst Helmoed Heitman, “either South Africa accepts regional security responsibilities and funds an appropriate defence force, or we wind our neck in, keep quiet and hope nothing goes wrong”. He posits that despite the role of a defence force being to address threats, the budget leaves no room for this, nor for the unexpected. Thus, one might conclude that the expenditure on counter-piracy operations is a frivolous expense, given the state’s primary responsibility of protecting its territory – a place to which pirates have yet to venture. Others may argue that the fact that pirates have not entered South African waters is credit to the capabilities of the navy.
On the balance of this information, how pragmatic is South Africa’s engagement in counter-piracy? Is it a worthy exercise in foreign policy, employing foresight, or does it constitute funds misspent on threat not immediately real to South Africa?
While Heitman makes apt observations with respect to the military budget, it is worth noting that South Africa’s security apparatus are most often deployed in assistance of other nations, often in Africa. South Africa does not fear any immediate threat to its territory, and is therefore able to make use of its defence forces as a tool in the furtherance of its foreign policy objectives, key amongst which is the precedence of Africa.
The fear of pirates’ southward migration offered Pretoria the opportunity to participate through its region in keeping with the country’s foreign policy and the practice of engaging the region as a first port of call. A SADC-based initiative would also be consistent with the African Agenda and the ideal of ensuring that the collective security of the Southern African neighbourhood is safeguarded. These considerations serve to motivate the pursuance of the issue in a way that befits South Africa’s model of foreign policy quite perfectly.
Counter-piracy activities have also allowed South Africa to push back at pirate frontiers farther away from home, effectively assisting neighbours through collaborative efforts, all the while, keeping the trouble at a safe distance from South Africa’s doorstep. This may be considered a pragmatic policy decision – indeed, South Africa is a littoral state with 3,751km of coast line, dotted along which sit a number of crucially important ports with significance not just for South African but for the region as a whole.
Given South Africa’s status as an emerging nation, it also has globalised interests, being impacted by costs brought on by piracy on the global economy, as well as the domestic concerns felt by neighbours. Furthermore, it acts to bolster South Africa’s perceived involvement in a fashionable issue of international proportions, without requiring all too much effort on the part of Pretoria. This too falls squarely in line with South Africa’s implied foreign policy objective of being the foremost African actor participating in the international space – the go-to partner on the continent who leads by example where issues of African security are concerned.
In conclusion, while the cost of South Africa’s counter-piracy engagement may, on the face of it, not appear to equal its benefit, South Africa has managed to structure this engagement in a way that plays to the global image that it works to portray, while expending relatively little resources. From a practical point of view the cost does not seem to meet the minimal realities of its risk, but perhaps in this instance South Africa has made its play on the basis of strategy rather than economics.
Is it necessary for its own security to be actively fighting the pirate threat? No, it is not. But, given the transnational nature of the crime, and nondiscriminatory nature of its effects, it is of crucial importance that states, littoral and landlocked become involved, acknowledge a shared responsibility and tackle the crime as a collective. Experts have long held that a coordinated effort by the international community is needed to turn the tide in the fight against piracy. This is South Africa’s effort to do just that – in this case a responsible global actor, but primarily one taking a path of pragmatic foreign policy.
A version of this article was first published in the African Armed Forces Journal in November 2014 as a winning entry of the AAFJ Denel writing competition, and the full version may be accessed there.
Dr Chris Ware
What do we remember in this year which marks the centennial of the outbreak of the First World War, a lost generation struggling in the mud of the Western Front?
Perhaps the battle of Jutland 1916, more deadly to reputations of the commanders than the enemy; however, how many think of the comings and goings of trade, and the merchant service in general; it will be remember albeit by a few specialist historians, yet without it, the Western Front would have crumbled, not just because of the lack of men from around the Colonies and Dominions, but because arms, ammunition and food, circulated the globe by sea.
Only in 1915, and then again 1917, when Germany used the U-boats to attack merchant shipping would it come out from hiding in plain sight. No one diminishes the toll that war on land, took, wherever in the world it might be, yet without the silent and omnipresent merchant marine many if not most of those who served in far off lands, or the Western Front, would not even have got there let alone been equipped to fight or feed and watered, they were reliant on the true expression of British sea power, the Merchant Navy.