The EU Naval Force mission in the Mediterranean will need to be multi-agency in outlook if it is to succeed

Strong liaison across different agencies, including the commercial shipping sector will need to be a central element in the EU's plans to act against human traffickers in the Mediterranean says leading maritime security company MAST.

Whilst talks are currently taking place in Brussels focused on the EU plans to set up a European Naval Force to fight people smuggling operations in Libya, the lessons learnt from Operation Atalanta (the EU's anti-piracy mission off the coast of Somalia) must not be forgotten.

Gerry Northwood OBE, COO of MAST and a former Royal Navy Captain who was Head of Plans at the inception of Operation Atalanta, said:

EU plans to set up a similar maritime operation to fight human smuggling gangs in Libya will only be successful if they emulate Operation Atalanta and dare to take a genuinely multi-agency approach, and are willing to work across the full spectrum of the private sector.

It should be recognised that the decisive factor in suppressing Somali piracy has been the deployment of armed guards. No vessel with armed security on board has been captured by pirates. It has been private security which has given seafarers peace of mind and made the Indian Ocean a place where they can actually go to work and not fear being captured by Somalis pirates and held hostage for months or even years.

He added:

Operation Atalanta off Somalia succeeded because it recognised the importance of de-confliction and co-operation with the US led coalition in the Indian Ocean, with NATO and with other military forces. But piracy only started to be suppressed once a meaningful liaison was established with the commercial shipping sector.

With this came Best Management Practices 4 (BMP4), which has been effective in hardening the vessels so that even an unarmed merchant ship, while by no means impregnable to an attack by pirates, is now much harder to capture. This buys the crew important time to call and wait for help while they shelter in their safe area or citadel. Eventually, the trump card was dealt when it became acceptable to use armed guards on board ships.

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For further information, please contact:
Gerry Northwood: +44 7557 938 060 | +44 1279 669 402 (ext. 615) |
Julian Menendez: +44 7838 547 531 | +44 207 544 8831 |

About MAST –
MAST is a leading global security provider with the expertise and capability to provide comprehensive security advice, including the delivery of intelligence information, physical security solutions and technology.

With offices in the UK, USA, Malta, Oman, Sri Lanka, Nigeria, Singapore and China, the company has the resources and the reach to provide clients with a complete solution.

MAST – Making the High Seas safe for all.

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