This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KUWAIT 004218
E.O. 12958: N/A TAGS: EWWT KU MOPS MAS SUBJECT: HIGHLIGHTS OF MARITIME LIAISON OFFICE (MARLO) CONFERENCE IN DUBAI, DECEMBER 1, 2004.
1. (U) SUMMARY AND COMMENT: Representatives of major commercial shipping companies, regional customs and port authorities, and various US government personnel joined the US Navy Maritime Liaison Office (MARLO) for its semiannual regional conference in Dubai on November 30 - December 1,
2004. Three main topics were presented during the conference: Iraq's Umm Qasr Port and Maritime Situation; Private Industries Role in Maritime Security; and an update on Implementation of the International Port Security Program (IPSP). Of the 100 attendees a significant portion of representatives were based in Dubai, UAE. Kuwait was also well represented by Port Authority and Customs officials as well as private industry. Much of the discussion during the presentations revolved around Iraq and the impact of opening the Umm Qasr port. The proposed Boubyan Island Port project in Kuwait, which would compete with the Umm Qasr port in Iraq and the Jebel Ali port in Dubai, was also discussed at length. (Boubyan Island Port project developments to be reported septel). END SUMMARY AND COMMENT.
MARLO - A brief history
2. (U) The mission of the US Navy Maritime Liaison Office (MARLO) is to facilitate the exchange of information between the United States Navy and the commercial shipping community. MARLO, part of the US Naval Forces Central Command, was established to provide the Navy with information on commercial maritime activities during the 1987 Tanker War when Iran and Iraq attacked commercial shipping. With headquarters at the US Naval base in Manama, Bahrain, MARLO personnel liaise with the countries of the Arabian Gulf, East Africa and with Pakistan. They meet with port and shipping company officials, shipping agents, offshore construction company officials, oil industry personnel and national coast guards to disseminate information on the security posture of the Arabian Gulf. MARLO also hosts a semiannual conference to bring together interested shipping concerns to discuss regional security and to invite guest speakers to present topical briefings.
Umm Qasr, Iraq
3. (U) Vice Admiral David C. Nichols opened the conference with a briefing on the impact Iraq is having on the security situation in the Arabian Gulf. Nichols discussed attacks on several oil platforms near Iraq and explained that all vessels, inbound or outbound, from Iraq are subject to queries and boarding. Although Coalition forces currently patrol Iraq's waters, a new Iraqi Coastal Defense Force is expected to begin taking over the defense of the oil platforms after December 31, 2004. These forces will be based at Umm Qasr port and have 5 patrol boats available for their use initially. The Coalition will continue to patrol the open waters around Iraq and work in conjunction with the new Iraqi forces to protect the oil platforms and conduct vessel queries and boardings.
4. (U) Chairman and CEO of Kuwait Gulf Links Port Management (KGLPM) Mohamad Kadhem Al-Mazeedi also spoke about Umm Qasr and the future of shipping in Iraq. Al-Mazeedi began his presentation by noting that an unexpected delay in his firm's naming as the primary contractor precluded any detailed discussion of his management plans for Umm Qasr port. Nevertheless, he said that he is "very confident" that KGLPM would win the Umm Qasr contract. The bulk of Al-Mazeedi's presentation therefore focused on KGLPM's corporate history and other projects. However, he did say that Umm Qasr is expected to become a sizable port with 10 berths handling up to 1 million TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit, which is equal to a 20-foot dry-cargo shipping container) per year.
There be pirates in these here waters
5. (U) According to Mr. David Fairnie of the Global Marine Security Systems Company, piracy is alive and well in the Arabian Gulf. In fact, it's on the rise, he said. With confirmed links to organized crime and new links to terrorists, piracy is considered one of the largest threats to the shipping industry worldwide, according to his industry sources. Recent attacks in the Gulf region have been made by AK47-armed pirates in high powered speedboats. Piracy is not unique to the Gulf, unfortunately, and Fairnie noted that the South East Asian region, more than anywhere else in the world, suffers from this crime. Of particular concern in the Gulf, however, are the growing links between pirates and terrorists. Fairnie specifically discussed the attacks mentioned by Vice Admiral Nichols on the Iraqi oil platforms, stressing that these terrorist acts included the use of waterborne improvised explosion devices.
6. (U) Other security concerns that shippers face in the Arabian Gulf are similar to those faced by shipping concerns worldwide. They include theft, narcotic smuggling, and stowaways. According to Fairnie, $30-50 billion per year is lost to theft and is viewed by the shipping industry as the cost of doing business today.
Implementation of the IPSP receives mixed reviews
7. (U) The conference concluded with an update on the worldwide implementation of the International Port Security Program (IPSP). This program, developed by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), requires participating ports to develop security programs using the International Port Security Initiatives (IPSI) code. The goal of this program is to have uniform security standards worldwide. According to International Port Security Liaison USCG Actives Europe presenter LCDR Brian Gilda, the implementation of the program has had mixed results. Several reasons for this were given, including local culture, government involvement, and high shipping volume from specific ports. An example was given of one country's implementation difficulties. The unnamed country has 10 ports. However, 70% of the country's exports go through one single port. That port has a fully implemented IPSP. Implementation has not started in the remaining 9 ports. Although the percentage of implementation is low overall (only 10%), the country is satisfied that its most vulnerable port has been protected. By IPSP regulations, however, the country is not considered compliant because only 10% of its ports have implemented programs. Gilda also said that the quick rollout timeframe of program has played a significant part in the implementation results. Overall, he said, he was satisfied with the number of ports that have implemented their programs during the past 6 months.