Counter-Piracy Training, Support and Certification

Friday, September 25, 2009
Photo courtesy Saltwater Communications

A step-change for the international maritime industry’s escalating war against piracy is ushered in with the official opening of the Merchant Maritime Warfare Centre (MMWC), a UK based, non-profit organisation staffed by experienced maritime security specialists. MMWC has been established to provide certificated counter-piracy training and ongoing operational support, to enable members to adopt a coordinated, structured and sustainable approach to mitigating the financial, operational and human impact of piracy.

At the core of MMWC’s services is a comprehensive package designed to provide unmatched preparation for pirate attacks through certificated training, risk assessment, auditing and 24 hours – 365 days a year operational support, which includes counter-piracy intelligence and threat analysis.

“So far this year there have been over 240 piracy incidents recorded, of which over 100 resulted in actual attacks,” said Nick Davis, Director, MMWC. “Our aim is to reduce the number of attempts that result in attacks through educating the industry and providing competence beyond compliance. We prepare management and crew in counter-piracy Best Practice, using proven techniques on sophisticated training tools whilst providing a constant stream of intelligence and support to at-risk vessels. Essentially, MMWC is the first full-service counter-piracy organisation.”

MMWC provides land-based management teams – those that deal with pirates should an event occur – with extensive training at the world-class MMWC training centre. The MMWC management team course is a world first that gives shore based managers a full understanding of what the ship’s operating crew will be going through in high risk areas. It is undertaken in a fully immersive simulator showing exactly what happens in the event of a pirate attack. Further classroom sessions clearly set out the role and scope of military involvement, crisis management plans in the event of a successful attack, legal overviews, media and brand protection and ways to empower crews to ensure safe transits of high risk areas.

Subsequent command team and crew training is available onboard and all member vessels receive the MMWC counter-piracy handbook, a dynamic tool that details established procedures to prevent the possibility of attack and what to do should an attack occur. Member vessels will also benefit from regular audits by MMWC staff, a reference DVD and three 5 x 2 metre banners, designed to be displayed when transiting at-risk areas, showing potential aggressors that the vessel and crew are fully trained and prepared to repel an attack.

“MMWC’s training, information and support will help to reduce the human and financial cost to the maritime industry caused by piracy,” said Nick. “In parallel, a key goal of MMWC is to provide structure to the global maritime industry’s counter-piracy efforts, through syndicating our training and support packages to shipping companies and third party security and training organisations. Counter-piracy Best Practice Management has essentially been free, but unregulated, so MMWC aims to establish industry-wide structure and regulation.”

Reflecting its role as an industry forerunner in counter-piracy, MMWC is already working with one of the world’s largest cargo ship operators to establish its training methodology and operational support across its entire fleet. Additionally, MMWC has established strong links with key maritime law firms and is working with the maritime insurance industry in order to establish MMWC counter-piracy certification as an industry standard, where compliance will be reflected in premiums.

“It’s a simple fact that crew who have been trained and drilled before passage are more capable of thwarting attempted attacks. We provide the tools to achieve this. MMWC vessels and fleets are able to avoid attack or boarding because they have a comprehensive, field-proven arsenal of training and information, which has been designed with the sole purpose of combating the ever increasing threat of piracy at sea,” concluded Nick.


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