There is war in Europe: A sad reality for several months now. Military conflicts not only take place on land and in the air but increasingly on the water, as well – with far-reaching consequences: "This war is another heavy blow to the global economy, and that includes international shipping, logistics chains and ports. Many ships are stuck in the Black Sea, their crews unable to tell when they might be able to continue their voyages. Parts of the sea region are full of mines. The port city of Mariupol is destroyed, and Odessa has again been the target of massive Russian attacks,” said Bernd Aufderheide, President and CEO of Hamburg Messe und Congress, at the SMM advance press conference. The 30th edition of the leading international maritime trade fair will welcome the Who's Who of the maritime world to Hamburg again from 6 to 9 September 2022. At MS&D, the International Conference on Maritime Security and Defence held in conjunction with SMM, the discussion will focus on questions of defence policy and equipment for naval forces. At the trade fair, many exhibitors from the shipbuilding and supply segments will showcase innovations of interest to the military.
As the current international situation shows, global free trade is increasingly exposed to risks. The protection of sea routes for international commercial shipping is the subject of the keynote presented by Dr. Martin Kröger, Managing Director of the German Shipowners Association (VDR), at the beginning of MS&D. General (retd.) Egon Ramms, former Commander of the Allied Joint Force Command and one of the highest-ranking German officers in NATO, will outline the political and military lessons to be learned from the Ukraine war to date.
But Ukraine and its ports on the Black Sea are by no means the only political hotspots in the world, a fact underlined by the MS&D leitmotif: "Protecting the Seven Seas". Around the world many nations are responding to the new security situation by increasing their defence expenditures substantially.
Arms buildup in the Far East
One of the panels of this year's MS&D will address maritime security in the Indo Pacific region where maintaining low-friction relations between nations is considered as a major challenge. The Chinese government is continuously increasing its military spending at rates exceeding the country’s economic growth. Military expenditures in 2021 were at roughly 293 bn US dollars. China aspires to replace the United States as the strongest military power by 2049. On the water, the People's Republic is already in the lead: "Between 2014 and 2018, China added naval ships equivalent to the total tonnage of the UK’s Royal Navy or the entire Japanese naval fleet to its already considerable navy," said Dr. Sarah Kirchberger, Head of the Department for Strategic Development in Asia-Pacific at the Institute for Security Policy at Kiel University. "This naval armament policy is practically unequalled in history." In her speech, Kirchberger will explore the objectives and potential of the Chinese navy.
China’s massive military investments are giving rise to worries among neighbouring countries, prompting them to strengthen their ties among each other. For example, Australia and Japan agreed a security cooperation as early as 2007. Joint exercises between the Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force and the Royal Australian Navy have reinforced their relations. The goal is to pave the way for peace and stability in the Indo Pacific region, the Japanese foreign ministry has said. The German navy's ability to cooperate with East Asian navies on securing key shipping routes was demonstrated recently when the frigate “Bayern” participated in a large manoeuvre of the Japanese navy. Deep Sea Captain Rtd. Joachim Gutow will explain at MS&D how the German navy is re-establishing itself as a partner in the Far East.
Apart from scientists and industry experts, a number of high-ranking naval officers will provide insights during the conference. Vice Admiral Ahmed Khaled Hassan Said, Commander-In-Chief of the Egyptian navy, will speak about the security situation in the eastern Mediterranean. Rear Admiral Henning Faltin from NATO COE CSW will discuss the importance of protecting military installations in coastal regions. The role of the German Maritime Forces Staff in securing the Baltic Sea will be the subject of a speech by Rear Admiral Stephan Haisch from the German navy – a topic very much in focus today because of Russia's aggressive behaviour.
As adviser to the Institute for Security Policy at Kiel University, Patrick O’Keeffe is well familiar with security situations around the world. A trained aerospace engineer, he will focus his presentation on cyber security during naval operations.High-tech applications are in the spotlight at thyssenkrupp Marine Systems (tkMS), as well. Specialised on naval shipbuilding, the company is currently dealing with an "explosive inheritance" from World War II. There are still vast amounts of discarded ammunition lying on the bottom of the sea. In German territorial waters alone, there are approximately 1.6 million tonnes left. "We only have a few years to act before a large portion of the ammunition will be rusted through," says tkMS General Manager Knut Baumann. In his speech he will present a partially autonomous recovery system used to defuse these ticking timebombs.
Unmanned systems are on the agenda of the second panel, as well: Ares Shipyard, for example, has developed an armed unmanned surface vehicle (USV). At SMM, the Turkish shipyard will present the numerous potential uses of the “ULAQ”, which can travel at speeds of up to 70 kilometres per hour.
Green fuels which may be suitable for naval vessels are the topic of the presentation by Andreas Junginger from MAN Energy Solutions, connecting the military with the civilian maritime world and the key topic of SMM: The Maritime Transition to emission-free shipping.
MS&D is again organised jointly with the experts from NAVAL FORCES magazine this year