Despite Defense Department budget cuts and ongoing military operations, pirates in the waters off the coast of Somalia won’t see a decrease in naval military presence any time soon. NATO allies recently agreed to continue through 2014 the Ocean Shield operation – a counter-piracy naval operation off the Horn of Africa protecting merchant ships from pirate attack. This is welcome news to many ship owners and charters, which have seen an increase in the number of pirate attacks in the Indian Ocean. The pirate threat and the international response seem only to be escalating.
If you mention the word “piracy” to someone, chances are images of Johnny Depp’s character from Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, but the sobering facts are that savagery on the high seas is very real and becoming a costly circumstance that deserves more attention. The waters around the Horn of Africa are growing more dangerous, with pirates from Somalia continuing attacks on commercial ships. These attacks contribute to the $7 billion-$12 billion that maritime piracy costs the international economy each year. To address and discuss this international challenge with national impact, the National Chamber Foundation will host “High Risk on the High Seas: The Economic Impact of Piracy in the Indian Ocean.”
As the U.S. fleet of icebreakers continues to age and fall behind the world’s arctic maritime community, the vision and fortitude of U.S. decision makers continues to wane. The recent announcement by Shell Oil to launch their $200 million arctic icebreaker in April 2012 should send a shiver up the spine of every Coastguardsman and mariner who has considered how the United States will deal with the future of operations in the high latitudes.
By Nelson Balido
Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Alan Bersin last Thursday announced his resignation effective December 30. For folks who monitor border trade and security issues, this wasn’t exactly a surprise. But it was still a disappointment. Nevertheless, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano made the right choice in naming deputy commissioner David Aguilar as the new acting commissioner.
Earlier this month, I was at Rutgers University and fortunate to hear retired U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Thad Allen speak at the 2nd annual Maritime Risk Symposium. In his address, Adm. Allen developed a theme in discussing resilience that I believe bears greater and deeper discussion. He discussed the Joplin, Missouri, tornado devastation this past spring. At the center of this lesson is a school teacher – it is the story of Dr. C.J. Huff, the young teacher-turned-school superintendent who demonstrated resilience in practice.
Sean Smith: Ink Spill: Inside the Battle to Shape the News Coverage of Last Year’s Oil Gusher One year ago on Friday, the runaway oil well in the Gulf of Mexico was capped, ending one of the longest-running and most popular reality news shows in American history. At the time I was the Assistant Secretary […]
No part of the federal government is more at risk in Washington’s mindless approach to budget cutting than the U.S. Coast Guard. By every responsible measure, the service is blinking red when it comes to the challenge of matching vital missions to capability. Yet, Congress appears ready to gut the service to preserve funding for “pork barrel” grants. No wonder the Coast Guard is singing the blues.