Seapower Symposium Highlights Maritime Cooperation
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sept. 30, 2009 Nations working together to solve maritime issues of mutual interest is the focal point of next week’s International Seapower Symposium at the Naval War College in Newport, R.I., the Navy’s senior officer said here today.
The 19th ISS at Newport, a biennial event, runs Oct. 7-9. It is “a forum where navies and maritime services from around the world can discuss common interests and propose solutions to the common challenges that are faced on the world’s oceans,” Navy Adm. Gary Roughead, chief of naval operations, told reporters at a Foreign Press Center news conference.
The Newport event began in 1969, Roughead said, noting over the past two years or so he has attended similar maritime-themed symposiums in Italy, Bulgaria, Denmark, Indonesia, and the People’s Republic of China.
“While each of these symposiums is significant,” Roughead said, “the number of navies that will join us in Newport next week is truly remarkable.”
Four years ago, Roughead said, the ISS attracted participation by 71 nations, with 56 chiefs or heads of the services in attendance. At this year’s symposium, the admiral said, 106 nations will be represented and 98 chiefs or heads of service will be in attendance.
Attendance at the Newport symposium has grown, Roughead said, because “there is now broad recognition that the International Seapower Symposium is a platform, a venue for any nation to propose new initiative to the international community.”
All three discussion panels at this year’s symposium, Roughead said, will be chaired by non-U.S. participants.
“This aligns, I believe exactly, with President Obama’s vision that the spirit of partnership is a defining feature of our foreign policy,” Roughead said.
Daunting contemporary maritime problems of international scope include weapons, narcotics and people trafficking, piracy, illegal fishing and oil theft and smuggling, Roughead said.
“It is only by working together that we can adequately overcome the many challenges that we face,” he said. “But, for as many challenges as there are, there are an equal number, if not more, opportunities for us to seize.”
For example, he said, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand are working together to confront piracy in Southeast Asia.
Turning to the symposium at Newport, Roughead said the building of relationships there “can prevent misunderstanding and foster an open and honest dialogue.”
Relationships built at sea can build capacity for smaller, developing navies that may lack the infrastructure to keep their trade, their natural resources and their population safe, he noted.
“The work that we do with developed navies can work toward the mutual benefit of all,” the admiral said.