The world is changing. Previously calm seas are waking up from their geopolitical slumber and threats to maritime trade are no longer confined to suspicious gunmen. Armed guards and water cannons will not deter the Iranian Revolutionary Guards or the Russian Navy. Razor wire will not prevent anti-ship missiles from cracking a ship’s hull open.
Seafarers are facing an increasingly uncertain and volatile international environment, which renders the current know-how obsolete. To manage this asymmetry, seafarers need to understand the shifting geopolitical context of the shores and the straits that they sail through. Maritime Situational Awareness should therefore not be restricted to the seas. Afloat and ashore are undeniably linked. The question is, are you ready to recognize this and adapt to the changing tide?
Let us consider the Black Sea for a moment. For most of its recent past, the Black Sea was sheltered from geopolitical confrontation and violence by the shadow of the Soviet Union.
When you are venturing in the semi-closed sea today, you might nevertheless encounter Russian warships en route to Syria, American guided missile destroyers on ports calls in Romania, Bulgaria and Georgia, or commercial vessels queuing for hours to access the Azov Sea.