As military exercises get underway in the Indian Ocean in an effort to protect merchant ships from piracy, the Norwegian Shipowners Association (NSA) is frustrated that their country will not be participating. Sturla Henriksen, the head of the ship owners association recently complained to papers that Norway should participate, being one of the 10 largest seafaring countries in the world.
Henriksen explained to the Norwegian Newspaper Dagens Naeringsliv, “Little Norway is a major power on the high seas, and this is perhaps the only area where the international community has special expectations regarding our contribution.”
Henriksen went on, “While the number of attacks increase and the pirates build up their arms, the Norwegian authorities have pulled out”
“In this situation, Norway is leaving it to others to protect our own fleet. The Norwegian authorities aren’t showing any will to protect Norwegian ships or their crews.”
While Norway took part in an exercise in 2009, but only by sending a single frigate to pirate-infested waters. For now, it looks like Norwegian vessels will have to look to other nations to secure their shipping routes in this region.
According to Henrisken, the NSA plans to lobby Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg to re-instate Norwegian participation in the efforts. Many are worried that it’s only a matter of time before Norwegian crews and ships suffer attacks from pirates.
Defense Minister Grete Faremo recently announced that Norway will renew participation in a counter-piracy operation in the Gulf of Aden in 2012. While this may not satisfy Henriksen, other members of the government are defending the level of Norway’s participation.
Erik Lhnstein, a high-ranking official in the Norwegian Foreign Ministry refuted the statement that his government wasn’t doing enough to address the concerns of the NSA: “Sending a frigate is a considerable contribution for a country like Norway,” the State Secretary claimed.
He elaborated that as a major shipping nation, Norway would participate on both a political and military basis. He said the government plans to support efforts to try and punish pirates once they are caught. While the government of Somalia isn’t nearly functional enough to try the criminals, Norway plans to give political and financial support to neighboring countries to help them bring captured pirates to justice.