Oceans Beyond Piracy (OBP), a project of One Earth Future Foundation, has launched the fourth installment of its annual reports detailing the economic and human costs of African maritime piracy. The study titled ‘The State of Maritime Piracy 2013’ examines the costs incurred as a result of piracy off the coast of Somalia as well as in the Gulf of Guinea.
GMI student Dirk Siebels has provided unique insights about the private maritime security industry for the report. For his PhD research about maritime security issues in East and West Africa, he is working in close cooperation with the Security Association for the Maritime Industry (SAMI) and large flag states, collecting data about armed security teams on merchant vessels.
The new OBP report finds that attacks by Somali pirates are increasingly rare an that, at between $3 billion to $3.3 billion, the overall economic costs of Somali piracy are down almost 50 percent from 2012. Regarding Africa’s west coast, this report is the first comprehensive attempt by any organisation to quantify the total economic cost of maritime piracy in that region. Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea remained a significant danger in 2013, says the report, with levels perpetuated by a lack of open reporting and a lack of coordinated effort among stakeholders.
At $1 billion to $1.2 billion, the costs for security equipment and armed guards are significantly lower than in 2012 but are now the largest chunk. Moreover, they are a significant burden on the shipping industry. While there have been a lot of efforts towards regulation and certification for private maritime security companies, it is still a very young industry and only very few reliable figures are available.
‘The statistical data I have gathered together with SAMI and other sources is an invaluable contribution to ongoing discussions about private security at sea,’ says Dirk Siebels. Over the past couple of months, he has presented his research findings at various conferences and registered a lot of interest, both from the commercial sector and from government organisation.
The new OBP report ‘The State of Maritime Piracy 2013’ can be found here:
To find out more about Dirk’s research, you can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Greenwich Maritime Institute holds a range of events, seminars and conferences including the popular Public Research Seminar Series which are held in Greenwich at monthly intervals.
Experts are invited to give a presentation on areas that relate to the three broad themes that the GMI specialises in: Maritime History, Maritime Policy and Maritime Security. Presentations are then followed by questions from the audience. Anyone is welcome to attend these free seminars although advance booking is required via Eventbrite.co.uk.
This year we are pleased to announce a variety of topics such as:
- Licensing Private Maritime Security Companies
- Navy, Identity & Leisure in 20th Century Britain
- Loss of the RB Angus
- 1412 – The Year China Discovered the World
- Designing New Vessels for 21st Century Tidal Thames
- Human Rights Considerations in the Maritime Industry
- China’s Ship Recycling
GMI Research Seminar Series 2013-14 – Download the brochure in PDF format
With his presentation about challenges for private and naval operations in African waters, Dirk Siebels was the GMI’s representative at MAST Europe in Gdansk from 4 to 6 June. His talk was an insight into his PhD research and attracted a number of questions from senior naval officers and defence industry representatives in the audience.
Maritime Systems and Technology (MAST) is one of the most important conferences for the maritime security sector. The tenth edition of MAST was held in Poland’s largest port city Gdansk. More than 700 attendees from 40 nations attended the conference. Presentations included a number of highly specialised topics, ranging from autonomous underwater vehicles to countermeasures against pirate attacks.
In his presentation, Dirk compared developments in maritime security in East and West Africa. Highlighted by the rise of pirate attacks in the Gulf of Guinea, he explained efforts undertaken by the United States and the European Union and pointed out future challanges for navies and private security providers.
Regarding the use of private maritime security companies (PMSCs), the main focus was on differences between operations in East and West Africa. Another important aspect for an audience that included senior officers from various European navies was the cooperation between private companies and naval forces in the Indian Ocean.
The next part of Dirk’s presentation were efforts at regulation of PMSCs as well as measuring their performance. Currently, there are very different rules and regulations in different flag states yet there is no data regarding the actual performance of armed guards on merchant ships. For his research, Dirk is cooperating with the Security Association of the Maritime Industry (SAMI) and the Marshall Islands shipping registry. As the third-biggest flag state, the Marshall Islands are taking a keen interest in measuring the quality of security teams onboard their vessels and have developed a questionnaire for ship operators and masters.
At the end of his talk, Dirk gave a brief outlook to the future of private maritime operations. After the industry has grown into a billion-dollar industry within just a few years, it seems unlikely that it will go away as soon as the piracy problems on both sides of the African continent are under control. Oil and gas production is moving more and more offshore, even East African countries such as Mozambique or Tanzania are on the verge of becoming major exporters. It may open up another potential market for private security providers. There are, however, a lot of legal and other challenges involved so it will remain an interesting topic for the foreseeable future.