While many Australians spend Anzac Day off work, Royal Australian Navy personnel around the world will remain on watch, contributing to global security, stability and prosperity.
On operations in countries as far from home as Afghanistan and South Sudan, in regions such as the Middle East and in waters offAustralia s northern borders. Their work is 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, but they will take some time off on 25 April to honour the sacrifices made by past and present service men and women. HMAS Ballarat is on a three-month deployment to South East Asia and will take part in a dawn service at Kranji War Memorial inSingapore with New Zealand service personnel.
Commanding Officer Ballarat Commander David Landon said this year s Anzac Day service would be poignant as South East Asiahad been an important theatre during both World Wars.
Anzac Day tends to bring the crew even closer together and forges a greater bond, particularly because you are away from home with what is a close-knit group of people with a common purpose, he said.
Anzac Day in Singapore will be very special in its own right, noting the history there, and the fact we will be joining personnel from the Royal New Zealand Navy will make for a fantastic experience.
Commander Landon said Anzac Day served as a reminder to all of the nature of war and the ultimate sacrifice that many made in past and current conflicts.
Anzac Day is always important to deployed officers and sailors alike. It provides an opportunity to reflect on the past, our traditions and also an opportunity to look ahead to the future and appreciate what we may be called upon to do in the service of the nation, he said. Ballarat s mission while deployed is to strengthen Australian relationships in South East Asia by participating in a series of maritime exercises.
The ship recently conducted exercises with the People’s Liberation Army – Navy and will mark the Republic of Singapore Navy s 50th anniversary by taking part in the country s International Maritime Review on 5 May.
Sister-ship, HMAS Arunta and her crew of almost 200 will also be on duty for Anzac Day.
Deployed to the Middle East region for nine months, her mission as part of a Combined Maritime Forces is to conduct security operations, including deterring terrorists and the trade of narcotics that fund them.
The ship has already seized 800 kilograms of hashish with an estimated street value of $36 million in a boarding in March this year. Executive Officer Lieutenant Commander Duncan MacRae said the ship’s company were looking forward to Anzac Day as it marked the start of the second phase of their deployment.
“Commemorating Anzac Day on operations has a special significance especially for those onboard who have deployed for the first time,” he said.
“We will commemorate Anzac Day alongside in Bahrain before we get back into the rigour of preparing Arunta for sea as we start more counter terrorism patrols in Middle Eastern waters, Lieutenant Commander MacRae said.
“I am very proud to be a part of this crew and the way they have conducted their mission so far.
“Many of us will use Anzac Day as a time to reflect on our own service and those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in war.”
LEUT Todd Fitzgerald (author), LSIS Bradley Darvill (photographer), ABIS Steven Thomson (photographer)
The recent string of pirate attacks off Somalia signals resurgence of this menace to international shipping and trade. Even as the presence of Indian Navy in these waters helped mitigate some of the attacks, it is imperative for India to take lead and actively engage all the responsible stakeholders to direct international efforts in tackling the root causes of this threat to international maritime security.
Over 700 attacks took place during the previous spell of pirate attacks off Somalia and Western Indian Ocean spanning 2008-2011 with about 750 persons held hostage in 2011, the peak year of piracy. The World Bank had estimated that the cost to global economy due to Somali piracy as $18 billion annually. Delays in shipping, ransoms to pirates, insurance premiums, changes in trade routes, installation of security measures onboard ships etc. contributed to this cost.
The mobilisation of international navies of Europe, India etc. aided by United Nations resolutions helped mitigate this threat. However, observers have warned last year that piracy off Somalia would resurge owing to political instability in Somalia as well as the inadequacy of international community in addressing the root cause of this threat.
Somalis are dependent on fishing for their livelihood. The civil war in the country had left no proper authority to safeguard the territorial seas and exclusive economic zone (EEZ) resulting in illegal fishing as well as dumping of hazardous waste material by foreign entities along Somalia s coast. The use of dragnets and other banned mechanisms to catch fish has also contributed to the decline of fisheries in Somalia s waters.
Calling themselves as saviors of the sea, the Somali pirates started attacking these fishing trawlers stealing the produce as well as holding the crew for ransom as sort of a tax. The attacks got extended to commercial shipping vessels as well as luxury cruises eventually, with the fishing trawlers buying protection from local warlords.
This ground situation seems to remain unchanged, which is re-fueling resentment amongst Somali population leading to the resurgence of pirate attacks. The naval forces were able to hot pursuit pirate ships even within the Somalian territorial waters, conduct special operations, trial and imprison the pirates in various countries. However, the desperate Somali youth unable to find meaningful jobs on land or the sea are compelled to resort to piracy again while the lack of proper enforcement authority to safeguard Somalia s territorial and EEZ waters is abetting the breeding conditions.
Somalia had made several requests to the international community to help it combat piracy. In addition to contributions from individual countries, the United Nations Security Council has passed resolutions establishing United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia with a mandate to stabilise Somalia. Somalia s transitional federal governments as well as autonomous states Somaliland and Puntland have entered into agreements with several firms and private organisations for thwarting piracy, but in vain.
In this situation, it is incumbent upon India to engage all the responsible stakeholders, particularly different autonomous administrations in Somalia, to attain the twin objectives of combating ongoing piracy attempts as well as build partner capacity enabling Somalia safeguard its waters. This should be a specific interest based arrangement to negate any misperception in Somalia against India as influencing its domestic politics.
India is undertaking various measures to combat traditional and non-traditional maritime security threats in the Indian Ocean. The Indian Navy and the Indian Coast Guard routinely exercises with their counterparts in the Indian Ocean building partner capacity enhancing the security of sea lines of communication and safeguarding the EEZs.
India should also consider building partner capacity of Somalia by re-organising, training and equipping its coast guard. New Delhi can deploy a long-term task force to the region for this purpose. The task force could meet its logistical requirements under the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) with the United States given the close proximity of Djibouti to the troubled region.
The recent raids by Somali security forces freeing an Indian cargo ship as well as the crew taken hostage by the pirates shows the skill, seriousness and ambition on part of Somalia to combat piracy. This is a welcoming development for India to actively engage relevant agencies to safeguard the maritime global commons.
The Indian Navy along with upgraded Somali coast guard could simultaneously thwart pirate attacks as well as illegal fishing trawlers and dumping of waste material in Somalia s waters. By apprehending such illegal ships and crews, India can establish trust with Somalia and work towards eradicating the social and economic conditions breeding piracy.
India has growing interests in West Asia and Africa. The European and West Asian countries are mired with problems related to illegal migration, civil wars and power dynamics. Somalia requires a credible, assuring partner to combat piracy. These situations call upon India to make a practical assessment of its intentions and capabilities as a responsible power and take initiative in this situation.
Vidya Sagar Reddy is a research assistant at the Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi
TOKYO (Kyodo) — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Sri Lankan counterpart Ranil Wickremesinghe agreed Wednesday to further advance their cooperation in maritime security. According to a joint statement released after their talks in Tokyo, the leaders emphasized the “special importance of maintaining a maritime order based on the rule of law, including the freedom of navigation and overflight and unobstructed trade.”
The agreement reflects Sri Lanka’s location near shipping routes on which Japan relies for its oil imports from the Middle East, as well as Japan’s concerns over China’s expansionary activities in the Indian Ocean and the East and South China seas.
“Without a free and open Indian Ocean, there cannot be real prosperity in the region,” Abe said at a joint press event after the talks.
“This is why it is essential for Sri Lanka to achieve sustainable growth as a hub, and develop ports that are open to everyone, something Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and I completely agreed on today.”
The Sri Lankan leader expressed his support for Abe’s approach, saying there “should not be any imbalances in the Indian Ocean.”
On the South China Sea, the leaders agreed on “the importance of the freedom of navigation and overflight, self-restraint, non-militarization and the peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with international law, including the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea.”
That language effectively cautions China over its overlapping territorial claims with neighbors and offshore development efforts. The current Sri Lankan government, which came to power in January 2015, has taken a foreign policy stance seeking to balance the country’s relationships with China and other countries in the region, in contrast with the previous administration’s strong alignment with Beijing.
Abe announced at the meeting Japan’s provision of 45 billion yen ($410 million) in yen loans for infrastructure projects and 1 billion yen in grant aid to develop the port of Trincomalee in Sri Lanka’s northeast. Japan is also in the process of providing Sri Lanka with two patrol vessels to improve its maritime security capability. Wickremesinghe’s six-day visit to Japan, ending Sunday, is his second trip to the country since he was appointed prime minister in January 2015 by President Maithripala Sirisena.
Earlier Wednesday, Wickremesinghe also held separate meetings with Defense Minister Tomomi Inada and Finance Minister Taro Aso.