NATO’s Operation Ocean Shield, European Union Naval Force Somalia - Operation Atalanta (sic) and Combined Task Force 151 (CTF 151) - the big three - have called upon the shipping industry to continue to take anti-piracy measures despite the current downward trend in piracy events.

In a recent report published by the International Maritime Bureau it was announced that there was a 54 percent drop in global piracy during the first half of 2012. One of the key contributors to this welcome development was the fall in both Somali hijackings and attacks. There are many factors which have led to this, two of which were the work of military forces in the region and self-protection measures taken by commercial shipping

Cdre Bruce Belliveau, NATO’s Deputy Chief of Staff (Operations) at Northwood said in a prepared statement that “attacks have been minimal during the monsoon season but in the past the end of the monsoon generally heralds an increase in the number of attacks on merchant vessels. We have seen a steady downward trend in pirate successes which is due in part to the vigilance of naval forces. We call upon merchant vessels to do what they can to ensure they continue to make it as difficult as possible for pirates to board and take control of their ships.”

By joining forces, counter piracy efforts are more effective and can achieve more than any one ship, navy, organization or country working alone. Even with all this military presence, the efforts of our naval forces cannot guarantee safety in the region. It is for this reason that CTF 151, NATO and the EU remind all ship-owners, operators and managers to continue to educate and train their mariners in both the threat and how to mitigate it.

The booklet Best Management Practices version 4 (BMP4) provides useful updates for masters in implementing protection measures to deter piracy. It is based on lessons learned from ships’ masters and can be downloaded from the NATO Shipping Centre and EU NAVOR/Maritime Security Centre – Horn of Africa websites (, ) where information is posted about the latest pirate attacks and where they occurred.