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Kelly On Maritime Security


Ships and submarines participating in Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise. (File)

The United States, positioned as it is between two great oceans, knows the importance of maritime security to the continued success of our own country, and of the rest of the world.

The United States, positioned as it is between two great oceans, knows the importance of maritime security to the continued success of our own country, and of the rest of the world. “Ninety-percent of world trade is conducted on the oceans,” said Acting Assistant Secretary for Political-Military Affairs Tom Kelly. “Maritime trade is our nation’s life blood. Keeping the oceans free for commerce – in two words, maritime security – is key to our national security.”

In the not-too-distant past, maritime security was seen as a set of military and law enforcement issues, such as threats from other states, terrorist activity, unregulated fishing, and organized criminal activity, including smuggling and piracy.

Today, we know that maritime security is a far more complex issue that includes mass migration, climate change, and natural and man-made disasters. So for example, typhoons may close down shipping lanes; mercury and oil leaks endanger global food supply chains; and climate change causes ice caps and glaciers to melt, raising water levels and shifting shipping lanes.

Five years ago, the governments of all maritime powers were reminded of an important lesson—that great problems are more easily solved when countries work together. In 2009, the United States helped to establish the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, which coordinated multinational naval patrols and drastically reduced the threat of hijackings by Somali pirates.

Today we fully appreciate that our own maritime security depends on our foreign policy. And because some of the busiest and most heavily used shipping lanes lie in the Asia-Pacific region, the United States is working with its partners to strengthen their maritime capacities. So for example, 40 million dollars in new regional and bilateral assistance to improve maritime security in the Philippines complements a 32 million dollar regional assistance package aimed at helping Southeast Asian nations improve their maritime domain awareness and better protect their territorial waters.

We are also building a cooperative partnership with China, to better manage critical global challenges such as piracy, climate change, and wildlife trafficking.

“Global maritime security is an essential element of American security and prosperity,” said Acting Assistant Secretary Kelly. Accordingly, the United States will continue to work with our partners to strengthen maritime capacities in the Asia-Pacific and across the globe.
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