Combined Task Force 151 (CTF 151), NATO and European Union Naval Force Somalia – Operation Atalanta (the big three) call upon the shipping industry to continue to take anti-piracy measures despite the current downward trend in piracy events.

Left to right, Rear Admiral Anho Chung from the Republic of Korea Navy – Commander CTF 151, Rear Admiral Jean Baptiste Dupuis, French Navy – EUNAVFOR Commander, and Commodore Ben Bekkering, Royal Netherlands Navy – NATO Commander

In a recent report published by the International Maritime Bureau it was announced that there was a 54% drop in global piracy during the first half of 2012.  One of the key contributors to this welcome development was the fall in both Somali hijackings and attacks.  There are many factors which have led to this, two of which were the work of military forces in the region and self-protection measures taken by commercial shipping

Commodore Simon Ancona, Deputy Commander of Combined Maritime Forces said “The downward trend in successful pirate attacks is most welcome but there are still too many.  Military forces cannot hope to be everywhere, and it is only in partnership with responsible commercial shipping that we can foil the hijackers. Merchant ships must continue to take appropriate measures onboard their ships to deter acts of piracy”.

By joining forces, counter piracy efforts are more effective and can achieve more than any one ship, navy, organisation or country working alone.  Even with all this military presence, the efforts of our naval forces cannot guarantee safety in the region.  It is for this reason that CTF 151, NATO and the EU remind all ship-owners, operators and managers to continue to educate and train their mariners in both the threat and how to mitigate it.

The booklet Best Management Practices version 4 (BMP4) provides useful updates for masters in implementing protection measures to deter piracy. It is based on lessons learned from ships’ masters and can be downloaded from the NATO Shipping Centre and EUNAV/Maritime Security Centre – Horn of Africa websites ( and where you can find information about the latest pirate attacks and where they occurred.

Working together the military and the maritime industry is having a positive effect in frustrating the efforts of pirates.  Despite the recent encouraging news, now is not the time to lessen the efforts of all stakeholders in this area.