The commander of EU Navfor, has said that recent incidents off the coast of Oman don‚Äôt indicate an increase in pirate-related activities, but asked concerned authorities to remain vigilant and not to be complacent about it.
Speaking to Muscat Daily from his operational headquarters in Northwood, UK, Rear Admiral Bob Tarrant, EU Navfor commander said the two incidents involving suspected Somali pirates in Omani waters late last month don‚Äôt indicate an increase in piracy. ‚ÄúClearly, the statistics show that piracy has reduced significantly over the past 12 months, and there have been very few successful attacks. As the commander of EU Navfor, I really welcome this reduction.
I feel that the business model of Somali pirates still exists, and the situation is reversible, so what I want people to do is to remain vigilant to piracy and not to be complacent about it. We need to be careful because pirates are still operating and we continue to see pirate action groups in the region. But, I don‚Äôt think what we‚Äôre looking at is a bounce-back or even a significant return of piracy like before, but we must guard against complacency.‚Äù
He added that Oman is at the forefront of international counter-piracy efforts in the region. ‚ÄúWe have a very good relationship with Oman which, like all countries, is affected by piracy. Oman is at the frontline of counter-piracy efforts in the region, and we have a good cooperation especially in the area of information sharing. We have a good idea of what is happening off the coast of Oman. Together, Oman and the EU Navfor along with our other partners at sea and in other nations are making the right moves to protect trade that affects everyone.‚Äù
Speaking of setting up radars along the coast of Oman, Rear Admiral Tarrant said, ‚ÄúIt is a matter concerning the Omani authorities, but I know Oman guards its coastline well and its navy is using state-of-the-art technology to support its operations. If you have such radars put in place, you can create a very good picture of what‚Äôs going on in your area, and thus it helps enormously to police the sea. Such a project would add to the security and safety of the seas around Oman and would therefore be an excellent idea,‚Äù he said.
Rear Admiral Tarrant also said that the pirates‚Äô level of activities depend on the time of the year, ‚ÄúThere are two monsoons that affect region‚Äôs weather patterns. The north-east monsoon which is weakening at the moment will be gone by the end of March, and the south-western monsoon that starts in late summer brings more heavy weather.
‚ÄúAs you know, the small vessels used by pirates are affected by sea states, so the periods when the sea is calm, in between the monsoon periods, is when the pirates know that they can operate with more safety. Make sure that you conduct the best management practice. Make sure that you use the processes that are involved, and you‚Äôre much less likely to be subject to a successful pirate attack,‚Äù he said.
Rear Admiral Tarrant added that the EU Navfor has support of many regional nations for its anti-pirate operations. ‚ÄúSeychelles and Mauritius have recently taken suspect pirates who had been detained at sea by EU Navfor force ships and what‚Äôs really interesting here is that this shows that if you start piracy activity from the shores of Somalia you get stopped by our patrol vessel, there is now an increasing chance that your activities will put you behind bars.
‚ÄúOur partners are very effective but very fair in the way they conduct their business. But we will see a conviction for anybody who is conducting pirate activity. This means people cannot get away with piracy, which is an awful crime, an international crime at sea,‚Äù he added.