Representatives of the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) attended a recent International Counter-Piracy and Escort Operations Symposium, held in Nanjing, China, Feb.22-23.

Military officers from more than 20 nations gathered at the Chinese Naval Command College, to discuss issues ranging from coordination of naval operations to logistics support.

The work of CMF generated much interest, in particular,  contributing nations’ experience of boarding operations and the capture of suspected pirates.  European Union Naval Force (EUNAVFOR) and NATO’s head of current maritime operations also briefed the audience, highlighting the benefits that international cooperation has produced in countering piracy.

“The number of successful piracy attacks is reducing, due largely to the adherence of industry to Best Management Practice, embarked armed security teams in discouraging would-be pirates and the efforts of maritime forces, including Combined Maritime Forces, to deter and disrupt piratical activity” commented Captain John Carter, CMF Chief of Staff.  “However, we must not be complacent, and navies must continue to coordinate their efforts to protect safety of navigation for all vessels on the high seas.  This symposium complements the efforts of meetings such as Shared Awareness and De-Confliction to enhance such cooperation.”

High profile, and receiving extensive media coverage within China, Captain Chris Chambers, United States Navy, former Chief of Staff to CMF, and Commander Carolyn Kenyon Royal Navy, CMF Legal Advisor, were invited to address delegates.

Outlining the legal framework for counter-piracy operations, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the UN mandate for action off the coast of Somalia, Commander Kenyon also highlighted several occasions when CMF units have handed suspected pirates to regional States for prosecution.

The symposium gave Chambers the opportunity to speak about the creation and benefits of the SHADE Conference.  The occasion also helped generate a number of discussion points for the next SHADE forum, to be held in Bahrain 12-13 Mar.

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