IONS working group examines counter piracy solutions


The Indian Ocean Naval Symposium Counter Piracy Working Group gathered in Pretoria last weekend to look at counter piracy solutions for the Indian Ocean region.

The Counter Piracy Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) Working Groups (WGs) were established to progress capability building regarding specific maritime security challenges common to the member and observer nations of IONS. These working groups established include the Humanitarian Assistance, Disaster Relief, Counter Piracy and Information Sharing and Interoperability working groups, reports the South African Navy.

Nine countries were represented during the 8-10 July event and included members from Bangladesh, Tanzania, Pakistan, India, Oman, Mozambique, Thailand, France and South Africa, the hosting country. The seminar was chaired by Rear Admiral (Junior Grade) Digby Thomson and co-chaired by Colonel Richard Makanso from Tanzania.

The SA Navy Chief Director Maritime Strategy, R Adm S.L. Pillay officially opened the Counter Piracy WGs and welcomed delegates to South Africa. In his opening address he welcomed all delegates on behalf of the Chief of the SA Navy, Vice Admiral M.S. Hlongwane and emphasized on the importance of maritime security against piracy. “Piracy undermines peace, security and stability wherever it occurs, and for this reason there has been a robust international effort to curtail it especially in the east coast of Africa.”

As part of setting the scene, guests from various institutions conducted presentations on piracy. Professor Thean Potgieter from The National School of Government gave a presentation on “Fighting piracy by working together from international regional and national cooperation.”

Lieutenant Colonel (Dr) Michelle Nel from the Military Academy gave a perspective on lessons learned regarding what piracy did for good order at sea. Dr Michael Epkenhans from the Military History Research Office of the Bundeswehr in Germany gave notes on the German experience regarding maritime piracy in the Indian Ocean.

In pursuing the main objective of the Counter Piracy WGs which is to improve mutual understanding, trust and co-operation between participants, and progress practical outcomes; delegates deliberated on mechanisms which can be developed into broad counter piracy action plan for IONS. On the last day of the conference agreed upon recommended resolutions were formulated. These resolutions will then be tabled at the WGs Seminar, scheduled to take place on 16 – 19 September 15 in Pakistan.