Panelists call for more investment in anti-piracy technology

Published 5 October 2009

Experts on a panel at the International Maritime Museum of Hamburg call for more investment in anti-piracy technology, and for greater coordination among trading nations to address the threat of piracy

MS&D 2009, an international conference and exhibition on maritime security and defense, was held in Hamburg, Germany last week.

On one of the panel discussions, experts argued that maritime security requires more investment in security technologies to counter increased threats to shipping routes, merchant ships and their crews, and to ports, especially as many pirates and terrorists are now very well equipped.

This demand raised by Dagmar Wöhrl, maritime coordinator of the Federal Government of Germany and parliamentary state secretary at the Federal Ministry of Economics. The panel discussion was held with an audience of more than 200 invited guests at the International Maritime Museum of Hamburg in the historic Warehouse District, with high-ranking personalities from government, navies, and maritime companies.

The panel’s topic was “Maritime Security — Opportunities and Challenges for the Industry.” In addition to Wöhrl as the opening speaker, the panelists included Thomas Kossendey, parliamentary state secretary at the Federal Ministry of Defense, Dr. Klaus Borgschulte, CEO of Lürssen Shipyard, Niels Mathiesen, general manager of the Danish shipping company Clipper Group, and Heinrich Goller, managing director HHLA Container Terminals GmbH. The discussion was chaired by MS&D chairman Vice Admiral (ret.) Lutz Feldt, who was Chief of Staff of the German Navy until 2006 and is now president of the German Naval Institute (DMI).

The organizers of the panel said that one thing has emerged quite clearly from the bitter experience with the successes of pirate and terrorist attacks in recent years, is that there are no quick and easy solutions to put an end to the threat. Vice Admiral Feldt made it clear in the run-up to the panel discussion that an overall concept is needed for maritime security. He noted that this calls for dialog between everyone responsible in this area — in the various ministries, and with shipowners, charterers, and the maritime industry. Hence the importance of concerted international activities such as MS&D, to discuss the threat situation and to reach agreement on joint policies to solve the problems. “We need action by government policy makers at national and international level. The European Union is a key partner in this,” said the MS&D chairman.

A similar standpoint is also taken by Heinrich Goller in the panel discussion. The managing director of HHLA calls for a harmonized security concept specified by governments, adding that it has to be implemented worldwide. It is vital to ensure that it is completely comprehensive — it has to include the whole of the supply chain. He noted that security in the Port of Hamburg is increased by HHLA in particular by systematic implementation of and compliance with the rules of the ISPS Code, by intensive cooperation with the relevant authorities, and by reliable and efficiently organized processes at all stages.

Dagmar Wöhrl believes that shipowners also have an obligation to take steps to protect their ships and crews. That requires investments in security technology such as sensor and monitoring equipment. State Secretary Kossendey likewise believes that security is not exclusively a matter for the politicians and military experts. The business community and companies also have to play their part. Economic prosperity is not possible without freedom of shipping routes.

Deployment of naval ships is the primary means to provide greater security on shipping routes. Klaus Borgschulte emphasized that specific tasks also require different ships, with special equipment, indicating the background experience which the Lürssen shipyard brings to this. Niels Mathiesen referred to the increase in cost resulting from pirate attacks. In this context he proposed closer cooperation among shipowners, and between shipping companies and government institutions.

The three-day MS&D conference and exhibition was held at the Hamburg Fair site from 30 September to 2 October 2009. It was attended by more than twenty naval delegations from countries on all continents, and by high-ranking government representatives and senior executives from industry. There were be more than 60 exhibitors presenting the latest maritime security, surveillance, and defense technology.