NATO’S Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, US Navy Admiral James Stavridis, has confirmed the organisation’s commitment to combating piracy off the coast of Somalia subject to the available resources at its disposal.
In a letter to the International Transport Workers’ Federation in response to its concerns, Adm Stavridis said: “I can guarantee the Nato task force uses all its means to limit the freedom of movement to the Pirate Action Groups in the area.”
While stressing the military action at sea being conducted by several coalitions “only address the symptoms of a wider problem”, Adm Stavridis said: “We are doing as much as we can with the assets the Nato members have allocated to the Nato counter-piracy task force. With other military coalitions, Nato warships put pressure on the identified strongholds of pirates along the coast of Somalia and intend to continue while the monsoon season is abating.”
Commenting on the legal framework for the detention and prosecution of suspected pirates, he advised: “Nato headquarters is attempting to negotiate a number of arrangements to facilitate the transfer to and from some regional states.”
ITF seafarers’ section chairman Dave Heindel had written to Adm Stavridis raising concerns about the increased use of violence by pirates and that many major flag states fail to make a real contribution to the fight against piracy, including making sure ships implement the agreed best management practice.
“Piracy is draining the morale of the seafaring population, and mariners did not enter this line of work expecting to be shot at by RPGs and AK-47s,” Mr Heindel said. “The developments this year have hit the morale of seafarers very hard, including the greater use of violence, abuse and even torture.”
The ITF called for a more robust response, including disrupting pirate camps on land, restricting access to fuel and action against their safe anchorages.
Mr Heindel said the ITF was keen to work closely with Nato to raise the political will to take decisive action to combat piracy. “The longer it is allowed to go on, the more difficult it will become to deliver an effective response.