Lancaster University academic advises Parliament on maritime security

Cargo ship with colourful containers sailing into Singapore

A proactive response is needed to tackle threats to maritime security as soon as they materialise, a senior lecturer and expert in maritime security at Lancaster University has urged a House of Commons committee.

Dr Basil Germond gave oral evidence to the House of Commons Transport Committee this week on questions of maritime security.

Earlier this year, the Transport Select Committee launched an inquiry into Maritime 2050: Navigating the future, which is the Government’s strategy to support the maritime sector.

Dr Germond explained: “At a high strategic level, maritime security is key to assuring the prosperity, security, and resilience of the UK as stated in the 2021 Integrated Review.

“For the industry, it is about business continuity but also stability; investors need to have certainties; they need to know that the industry can operate in a safe and secure environment.”

Dr Germond stressed that the multi-agency, multi-stakeholder and multinational approach adopted by HM Government responds to the need for flexibility and a holistic approach to MS threats.

However, recent events, such as the Suez Canal accident, Covid-related disruptions and the Ukraine war, demonstrated the fragility of the supply chain and the vulnerability of shipping routes.

“This calls for further proactive responses to tackle the threats as soon as possible when they materialise and as far away from the UK as possible before they impact us,” explained Dr Germond.

He added: “New and emerging technologies such as cyber, automated systems, and artificial intelligence offer solutions to governmental actors and industry to improve maritime domain awareness and respond to maritime security threats. However, this can also give criminals and competitors access to disruptive technologies, some of which are relatively cheap and easy to obtain.”

The Committee also inquired about the current situation in Ukraine, in particular the Russian blockade. Dr Germond assessed various options to break the blockade and suggested that HM Government should also consider providing food aid to nations in the Global South most impacted by the current food crisis (see also Dr Germond’s recent interview on Forces TV).

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