Thursday, April 21, 2016

Defeat of Somali Pirates Means the End for Merchant Vessel Security Representatives

Armed Guards Have Mostly Eliminated Major Threat
Shipping News Feature
UK – SOMALIA – WORLDWIDE – After 5 years of representing the private maritime security industry the Directors of the Security Association for the Maritime Industry (SAMI) have made the decision to put the company into voluntary liquidation. When the association was first formed piracy and hijackings of merchant vessels off the coast of Somalia were increasing at an alarming rate but since the first members joined in April 2011 much has changed with suspicious activity in the Gulf of Aden becoming less and less frequent. CEO of SAMI, Peter Cook said:

“There has not been a successful hijacking of a commercial vessel in the High Risk Area since May 2012 and this is principally due to the increasing competence and professionalism of the private maritime security industry. This is the task SAMI set out to achieve and we have done it.

“We would like to publicly thank all current and past members of the SAMI Secretariat, our associates, affiliates, partners and the members that have contributed so much to the success of the Association and the unique position we have held within the global maritime industry for the past 5 years.”

The industry has also evolved and consolidated significantly with membership falling from its peak of 180 to less than half that figure. Consequently the Association finds that it is no longer financially sustainable in its current configuration.

The SAMI Secretariat says it has worked tirelessly, on behalf of its membership, to represent them in as many influential forums as possible around the world and to establish an effective regulatory structure for the use of armed guards on board ships in the pirate-infested waters of the Indian Ocean. Dr Phillip Belcher, Marine Director, INTERTANKO commented:

“SAMI’s contribution to ensuring a better regulated space was significant. Through the provision of a single point of contact to this industry, shipowners were able to talk sensibly and proactively at a real time of crisis in the shipping industry. It is a shame that that point of contact is now being lost, but their positive impacts will remain as their legacy.”

SAMI greatly influenced the development of the use of armed guards on board ships in the North-West Indian Ocean and, as noted by former Commander of the naval task force EUNAVFOR, Vice Admiral Duncan Potts, the private maritime security industry ‘has a 100% rate of success’, protecting many thousands of seafarers from pirate attacks and the horrors and deprivations of being held hostage, details of some of which were linked to our story in 2011 and which contained shocking images.

SAMI has reassured ship owners, charterers, and marine insurers of a high standard of professionalism from the Privately Contracted Armed Security Personnel (PCASP) providing a measured and proportionate response to deter pirates from attacking ships transiting the High Risk Area. Neil Roberts, Manager Marine and Aviation, Lloyd’s Market Association (LMA) said:

“There is no doubt that SAMI made a positive contribution to the private maritime security industry by helping to establish improved regulation and, in doing so, improved how the industry was perceived. Its pioneering work on floating armouries will be an enduring legacy.”

The Security Association for the Maritime Industry (SAMI) was founded by Peter Cook (a former Royal Marine Officer) and Steven Jones (a former Merchant Navy Officer) in the spring of 2011. At its peak, over 180 Private Maritime Security Companies from more than 35 countries around the globe were members. SAMI was a NGO and not for profit association that represented its extensive membership in the most influential supranational forums such as the UN’s International Contact Group for Piracy Off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS), the IMO as part of the Marshall Islands delegation, the European Commission’s Stakeholders Advisory Group on Maritime Security (SAGMaS) and the G7++ Friends of Gulf of Guinea (FOGG), exploring ways in which private maritime security could support the protection of seafarers and promote a more secure maritime domain.