The 25th Shared Awareness and Deconfliction (SHADE) conference was held on 18th September in Bahrain. The conference is held quarterly and aims to coordinate and de-conflict activities between the countries and coalitions involved in counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden and western Indian Ocean. The international gathering of 110 delegates included representatives from 27 countries including military, law enforcement agencies, the shipping industry and other government officers.
The co-chairman of SHADE, Captain Harrie Welmer of NATO commenced proceedings by giving a warm welcome to all attendees. In his opening address Captain Welmer confirmed that
“Piracy activity this year has significantly reduced to similar levels of 2008. The reduction in piracy activity can be contributed towards our defensive patrolling of the area but also to an increase in the number of embarked security teams onboard merchant ships and towards the effects of ongoing operations in Somalia including its recent elections.”
Despite the reduction experienced this year, Captain Welmer warned that the
“Monsoon transition is imminent and whilst pirates continue along similar patterns of behavior they appear to have increased their radius of operation towards the Gulf of Oman and towards India and to be probing merchant vessels to ascertain whether security teams are embarked.”
Captain Welmer recommended implementation of Best Management Practices (BMP4). Non-compliance will only present greater opportunity for pirates and significantly increase the risk to the mariner.
Rear Admiral Anho Chung presented on the Counter Piracy Operations over the period June to September 2012. During this period he held alternating the duties as Somali Basin and Gulf of Aden Coordinator for CTF 151 (CMF), CTF 465 (EUNAVFOR), and CTF 508 (NATO Ocean Shield). He commented that
“out of 5,500 merchant vessels that transited through the Gulf of Aden during this period there were a total of 3 piracy attacks and none successfully hijacked.” He concluded that the “efforts of CMF, EUNAVFOR, NATO as well as other independent nations including Japan, Republic of Korea, China, Russia, Malaysia and India all contributed to safeguarding the high risk areas by providing a naval presence and leading convoys through the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor.”
Throughout the day, further discussion and debate continued including briefings by other nations and organizations.
The next SHADE meeting will be held in December 2012, date to be later confirmed by CMF HQ, Bahrain.
SHADE was established in December 2008, to coordinate the efforts of the many military forces conducting counter-piracy operations including escorting convoys of merchant vessels in the region.