Crimes committed at sea often affect more than one country, which increases the complexity of law enforcement and makes pursuit and apprehension of suspects challenging. Whether dealing with weapons or narcotics smuggling, or violent crimes such as piracy against ships, some form of agreement or level of cooperation among maritime states is necessary. Increasingly, however, there is regional consensus on the thorny issue of maritime law enforcement and interdiction of vessels where international waters meet territorial seas, which indicates that a shift in perceptions is occurring about how regional ocean security is managed.
The U.S. Naval War College, in an introduction to its Winter 2008 Review, described the ocean as a "vast maneuver space, where the presence of maritime forces can be adjusted as conditions dictate to enable flexible approaches to escalation, de-escalation, and deterrence of conflicts."