On 20th and 21st November 2018, the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) co-chaired the 43rd Shared Awareness and De-confliction (SHADE) conference in Bahrain alongside the European Naval Force (Somalia) (EU NAVFOR). Over 100 delegates attended the conference including maritime shipping partners and independent maritime naval force representatives from Russia, China, India and Oman.
SHADE delegates at the end of the conference.
The SHADE conference occurs biannually and is held in the Kingdom of Bahrain, with chair responsibilities rotating between CMF and EU NAVFOR. The main purpose of the conference is to offer delegates the opportunity to discuss and understand the challenges and opportunities involved in countering piracy in the region and to ensure cooperation and de-confliction between navies when conducting these counter-piracy operations. Successes by the organisations combating piracy, including the maritime industry applying Best Management Practices, have led to a reduction in incidents over recent years. However, the threat continues and the need for all maritime agencies to work closely and remain vigilant is essential to retaining freedom of navigation for legitimate seafarers.
Opening the conference, the Deputy Commander of CMF, Commodore Steve Dainton CBE said: “The 43rd SHADE provides the perfect opportunity for the maritime community to meet and discuss the on-going and combined efforts of our counter piracy operations. We have to recognise that, but for our efforts and for adherence to Best Management Practice, conditions in Somalia remain such that piracy could resurge at any point.” He reminded the conference that information sharing and collaboration was key to ensuring maritime security and that CMF and EU NAVFOR would remain firm partners in these efforts.
Deputy Commander CMF, Commodore Steve Dainton, addressing the delegates at the start of the conference.
CMF has conducted counter-piracy operations since 2009 and EU NAVFOR from December 2008, with both organisations playing a key role in countering piracy throughout that time. The suppression of piracy, however, remains an on-going effort with all military and industrial partners playing their part and SHADE remains a focal point for coordinating this activity.
Colonel Mark Totten MBE, the co-chair from EU NAVFOR said: “Countering piracy involves every interested party working together. By sharing information and working collaboratively, we can keep piracy suppressed.” He went onto say: “It is essential that international maritime trade continues to use Best Management Practices in order to mitigate the threat of being pirated off the Horn of Africa.”
EU NAVFOR Chief of Staff, Colonel Mark Totten, speaking at the conference.
Perspectives were heard from independent speakers from Russia, China, India and Oman. Their countries play an important role in protecting and reassuring the merchant maritime community, as they often operate ships within the high threat area. Each nation declared they would continue to communicate and share information where possible and that they shared a common goal – the free flow of commerce.
A keynote speaker representing the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), John Steed MBE, provided an update on the situation on the ground in Somalia, as well as stressing the need for a naval presence to actively discourage any resurgence in pirate activity.
Closing the conference, the conference Chairman and Chief of Staff to CMF, Commander Micah Maxwell USN, said: “It has been an honour to chair this conference and to once again bring together experts from different organisations, navies and merchant shipping communities. We have been able to discuss counter piracy through the development of best practices, whilst coordinating and de-conflicting our activities to ensure that international maritime trade in our region can continue to go about its lawful business, unhindered. All of this proves to me the importance of these SHADE conferences.”
Combined Maritime Forces Chief of Staff, Commander Micah Maxwell, addressing the conference.
The 44th SHADE is planned for the latter half of April 2019.