New Organization Opens to Provide Counter-Piracy Training, Support and Certification

Published Jan 6, 2011 10:56 AM by The Maritime Executive

Counter-piracy Best Practice Management has essentially been free, but unregulated, so MMWC aims to establish industry-wide structure and regulation.

14th September 2009: A step-change for the international maritime industry's escalating war against piracy is ushered in today, with the official opening of the Merchant Maritime Warfare Centre (MMWC), a UK based, non-profit organization 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," comments 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 organization."

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," continues 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," concludes Nick.

The MMWC information portal can be found at www.mmwc.org.

About the Merchant Maritime Warfare Centre

Based in Poole, Dorset, a world centre of maritime security excellence, the non-profit Merchant Maritime Warfare Centre (MMWC) is the brainchild of maritime security expert Nick Davis. It offers a new, comprehensive approach to counter-piracy services.

Piracy is one of the international maritime industry's largest issues, and the problem is only getting worse. IMB figures released in July 2009 showed that the number of piracy attacks around the world more than doubled in the first six months of 2009 compared to the same period in 2008.

MMWC is a non-profit organization founded on the fundamental principle that definitive, consistent information and certification based training is the only way for the merchant maritime industry to mitigate the human, financial and operational impacts of piracy, armed robbery and terrorism.

MMWC offers a comprehensive training and information based membership programme that delivers certification at all organisational levels. Its world-class UK training centre includes the latest virtual bridge simulation infrastructure and software, associated classroom facilities, and access to vessels and a dedicated operations zone to provide full on-water simulation. All MMWC trainers and operatives are STCW 95 qualified international ex-naval personnel, with direct experience of maritime piracy.

MMWC is working with the maritime insurance industry to gain appropriate accreditation of its certification programme, and to offer compliance benefits to its members.