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Event Review

Safeguarding Coastal and Offshore Assets in the Littoral Strategic infrastructure provides the foundation for national security, governance, economic vitality or a way of life.  In that context, strategic maritime infrastructure comprises of diverse elements such as ships, dockyard, ports, harbours, offshore platforms, submarine cables, oil/gas pipelines and, other critical infrastructure located in the coastal areas. Significantly, maritime infrastructure is located in a unique geographical area of mixed maritime-continental milieu giving it a coastal and offshore character.  

The global perception about protection of strategic maritime infrastructure has changed dramatically. The attacks on USS Cole and M V Limburg off Yemen and the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks which originated from the sea are stark reminders of the vulnerability of naval and maritime assets. The recent reports about attempted hijacking of a Pakistani warship in Karachi harbour signals the continued vulnerability of maritime infrastructure.

It is evident that infrastructure, particularly naval and strategic, present attractive and opportune targets. Hence, it is important that these assets are protected against sabotage, and destructive and disruptive elements. In the past, only military and governmental assets were considered legitimate targets for state and non-state actors; however, commercial and civilian assets have now emerged as lucrative targets. 

This brings to fore three key issues: (a) How vulnerable is the strategic maritime infrastructure to disruption/ destruction; (b) Whether the current risk management philosophy addresses such vulnerabilities; and (c) What are the organisational and technological solutions to mitigate these risks. 

At the heart of 'maritime infrastructure vulnerability' lies an opportunity for the entire stakeholder community, i.e., policy makers, users, technology and innovation managers and the private and defence industry, to collaborate and identify solutions.  This calls for appropriate security strategies, regulatory frameworks, and countermeasures to provide adequate protection to maritime infrastructure. Key decision makers in both government and industry need a holistic appreciation of the types, nature and origins of such threats. Therefore, securing strategic maritime infrastructure is a challenging and complex task for any country.

This seminar endeavours to push the debate on the threats, challenges and response to strategic infrastructure to higher levels through engagements with various stakeholders including the navy, coast guard, industry, strategic community and others. The event would also attempt to draw out suitable recommendations for consideration by the policy makers for a more effective management of strategic maritime infrastructure.

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