Coast Guard admiral to testify on actions to prevent piracy

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Coast Guard’s Assistant Commandant for Marine Safety, Security and Stewardship is scheduled to testify during a Senate Surface Transportation & Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Security Subcommittee hearing on piracy on the high seas today at 3 p.m., at 253 Senate Russell Building, here.

The subcommittee, chaired by Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., will hear testimony from Rear Adm. Brian Salerno, detailing the Coast Guard’s efforts to prevent piracy. The Coast Guard has the lead role under the Maritime Transportation Security Act of issuing Maritime Security Directives and reviewing vessel security plans for U.S. flagged merchant vessels to help deter pirate attacks. The Coast Guard also plays a key role in the National Security Council’s “Strategy for Countering Piracy off the Horn of Africa: Partnership and Action Plan,” and is the lead agency responsible for the International Ship and Port Facility Code and the Maritime Security Transportation Act regimes which provide ready-made and effective architecture to develop and implement effective defensive counter-piracy measures for commercial maritime vessels.

The Coast Guard also works with the Department of State and the law enforcement agencies of numerous countries to establish workable consequence delivery mechanisms to enable the prosecution of captured pirates. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachments and cutters are actively engaged in joint operations as part of Combined Task Force 151, providing a law enforcement capacity to deployed forces conducting counter-piracy operations.

“In response to the increase in pirate activity in the Gulf of Aden region, the Coast Guard has been working with the maritime industry, other federal agencies and the IMO to identify specific additional measures to minimize the vulnerability of commercial shipping,” said Salerno. “We have been in close consultation with the maritime industry and our partner agencies for several weeks to finalize and quickly issue a new Maritime Security Directive to guide pirate prevention measures. I expect the directive to be finished in about a week.”

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