Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 1 December 2020

Post-Brexit Britain should become global maritime security hub, says ex-transport minister

Report says special forces mission to reclaim tanker highlights UK’s expertise in maritime operations

The ‘Nave Andromeda’ at port in Southampton after the military operation to remove the stowaways. Getty
The ‘Nave Andromeda’ at port in Southampton after the military operation to remove the stowaways. Getty

Post-Brexit Britain should grasp the opportunity to become the hub of a new global maritime security centre after its successful military operation to take control of an oil tanker boarded by stowaways, a former transport minister said on Friday.

The reclaiming of the Liberian-flagged Nave Andromeda on Sunday highlighted how the UK had the resources to deal with naval incidents - unlike many other countries, said Nusrat Ghani, who served as UK maritime minister from 2018 to 2020.

Special forces boarded the vessel in the English Channel off the Isle of Wight and detained seven stowaways, who had allegedly threatened crew, within nine minutes. The ship had been heading from Lagos in Nigeria to the southern English port of Southampton.

London hosts the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), the global standard-setting authority of the international shipping industry.

“The UK’s role as host of the IMO … means it can position itself as a thought leader and leading content provider on global shipping security,” said Ms Ghani in a report for the think tank Policy Exchange.

Former Maritime Minister Nusrat Ghani. Alamy
Former Maritime Minister Nusrat Ghani. Alamy

She said the location of the operation was a “lucky escape” for the industry as it was close to the base of the UK’s elite Special Boat Service that uses the area for training.

Sailing under a Liberian flag also avoided the potential diplomatic complications had the vessel had been registered in Russia or China, she said.

“The UK has excellent policing, coastguard and defence resources, with authorities that can co-operate with one another effectively and is well-equipped to deal with such incidents. Many other nations do not have such resources at their disposal,” she wrote in the report A Global Maritime Power: Building a Better Future for Post-Brexit Britain.

“When incidents like this occur elsewhere in the world, they can often lead to a protracted stand-off.”

Updated: October 29, 2020 08:16 PM

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