“Indonesia and its President Joko Widodo have rightly recognized that maritime crime, including piracy and smuggling, can be hugely disruptive of commerce and wealth generation,” said Phil Cable, Chief Executive Officer at MAST (Maritime Asset Security and Training Ltd)
The development of the coastguard is part of President Widodo's push to reassure investors that Indonesia is taking maritime security seriously. Before he was elected, he stressed Indonesia's strategic position on the world's maritime axis and her potential as a regional maritime hub.
A statement he made recognised Indonesia as the world's largest archipelago and linked the country's future development and prosperity with making sure that the surrounding shipping lanes are secure. He has followed this up with the announcement of the new coastguard service.
Cable said: “Responsible governments, like the Indonesians, are taking their responsibilities under UNCLOS (The United Nations Convention on the Law of the sea) increasingly seriously because they recognise that national wealth is intrinsically linked to good management of their Territorial Waters (TTW) and Economic Zones.
“It is becoming increasingly apparent to all governmental actors that meeting UNCLOS obligations and being able to protect and develop TTW and Economic Zones is a complex and expensive business. It is one thing to declare ownership of TTW and an Economic Zone. It is quite another to be able to exploit and protect the economic resources and wealth contained in and derived from the maritime sector.”
Gerry Northwood OBE, Chief Operating Officer at MAST, said: “We now have a situation where the most far sighted countries are investing in maritime security as a means to underpin national wealth and economic development.
“The challenge they are facing is that maritime infrastructure is expensive and there is a relatively long lead time to put in place resources. Early upfront investment is required and this is what the Indonesians are doing through creating a more capable maritime police force.
“Sailors are not like soldiers. They cannot be trained in a heartbeat. Sailors and maritime police have to become competent in the marine environment before they can actually start to provide value as law enforcement officers. The same principle applies to personnel involved in environmental protection. We must also not forget that maritime operations are very often served by air operations. The ability to coordinate and link the two, means that vast swathes of ocean and littoral can be more efficiently monitored.”
Northwood added: “The fact that the Indonesians are taking this seriously means that they have recognized the importance of their 'Maritime Flank' -in their case, it is actually all round them-, and the realities of their geography, to the future wealth of their nation and the well being of their people.
“To secure and exploit this, whether it is port security, port operations, lights and buoyage, fishery protection, offshore protection, routine policing, it is all about sustainable training programmes.”