Experts examine new technologies in maritime security

  • 03 Nov. 2010 - 05 Nov. 2010
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  • Last updated: 09 Nov. 2010 18:22

From 3 to 5 November 2010, more than 120 maritime security professionals gathered at the second international WaterSide Security (WSS) Conference in Marina di Carrara, Italy, organized by the NATO Underwater Research Centre (NURC).

Experts from North America, Europe, Asia and Australia examined emerging maritime technologies and best practices in a wide range of areas, including counter-piracy, counter-terrorism, protection of high-profile events and maritime surveillance.

The conference opened with a keynote address from Commander S.G. Stein Olav Hagalid of the Royal Norwegian Navy, Branch Head of the NATO Shipping Centre (NSC) in Northwood, London. He urged the merchant shipping community to follow best management practices and look to researchers for better ship protection and early-detection tools.

At the time of the event, Commander Hagalid said that 19 merchant vessels and more than 420 crew members were being held captive in Somali waters.

Dr Ronald Kessel, Project Manager for Maritime Security at NURC, chaired the conference. “Technology developers from many different disciplines need to get together with each other and security providers, military and civilian, in order to counter maritime threats like piracy and terrorism in feasible and sustainable ways,” he said. “WSS2010 stimulated this interaction through presentations, interactive workshops and offline discussions.”

Mr George Loh, Assistant Director of Singapore’s Defence Research and Technology Office, emphasised the need for international collaboration: “Our little territory cannot work alone. …we are here at this conference to partner with others in maritime security.” 

Singapore’s harbour and territorial waters handle 33 per cent of the world’s maritime traffic, 50 per cent of the world’s oil, 150 000 vessels annually and 5000 maritime companies. Singapore will host the next international WSS Conference in 2012.

NATO has two ongoing maritime security operations, Operation Ocean Shield, to combat piracy off the Horn of Africa, and Operation Active Endeavour, to detect and deter terrorist activity in the Mediterranean.