Thursday, 07th January 2020 : Publication of the second MICA Center annual report on worldwide maritme piracy and robbery

For the second consecutive year, the Maritime Information Cooperation & Awareness Center (MICA Center) publishes an annual review of maritime piracy and robbery events. This report identifies and characterises the events recorded in 2020 that affect maritime security worldwide.

The total number of events related to maritime piracy and robbery has remained stable over the last five years. With 375 events reported worldwide, it is still almost half the peak number reached in 2011, at the height of the attacks off the coast of Somalia. For the year 2020, the MICA Center notes a slight increase in the number of attacks in the Gulf of Guinea but no increase in the number of people kidnapped. It confirms that piracy off the Horn of Africa remains at a low level and that robbery is on the rise in the Caribbean arc and in South-East Asia (increase in thefts).

The MICA Center is a centre for the analysis and assessment of the maritime security situation, but also a unit that centralises alerts in the event of an attack at sea. It collects and relays useful information to partners who subscribe to its free services. This annual report summarises the assessments regularly transmitted to maritime industry actors and analyses the trends observed as well as the evolution of modes of action.

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Gulf of Guinea : Large increase in acts of piracy and robbery during November

In accordance with the calls for vigilance issued as the dry season approaches[1], the increase in acts of piracy and robbery observed in November confirms the trend of recent years. Indeed, 18 incidents were reported in the Gulf of Guinea during the period, 7 more than the previous month. This increase is mainly due to a growing number of attacks and boardings of ships.

These last events took place mainly in the JWLA[2], up to 170 nautical miles offshore. They mostly affected oil tankers and fishing vessels, however all types of vessels remain concerned and are invited to apply the measures of the Best Management Practice West Africa.

The total number of crew members kidnapped at sea rose to 36 in November alone. The latest incidents show that a quick retreat from the citadel by the crew can prevent kidnappings.

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11 of November 2020 : Annick Girardin, Minister of the Sea visits the MICA Center.

On November 11th, Vice-Admiral Olivier Lebas welcomed Mrs. Annick Girardin, Minister of the Sea, at the Maritime Prefecture.

The Minister’s passage in Brest enabled her to visit the MICA Center.  The missions and workings of the centre were presented during the morning.

The relations between the maritime industry and the French Navy, through the Coopération Navale Volontaire (CNV) were first described.

International cooperation, with examples such as the European Union’s anti-piracy mission “ATALANTA” and bilateral Franco-British cooperation in the Gulf of Guinea, was then presented.

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European cooperation in the Gulf of Guinea

On October 22, 2020 at 07h58Z, while sailing in international waters in the Gulf of Guinea, tanker ERRINA issued an SSAS warning and its crewmembers locked themselves in the ship’s citadel. Starting then, all attempts to contact the ship failed. The Italian Multi-Missions Frigate NAVE FEDERICO MARTINENGO reached the position given by the MDAT-GoG in the afternoon and searched the area using its helicopter to no avail.

In the evening, the shipowner informed the MDAT-GoG of the last known position of ERRINA before the SSAS warning signal. The participants in the search were then reoriented toward that position. On October 23, 2020 at 08h00Z, the helicopter of the Italian Frigate established VHF communications with the tanker. The ship’s captain testified to a boarding by six pirates but all crew was safe and accounted for. A ship armed with a security team from the Nigerian Navy then escorted the tanker.

Increased threat in the Gulf of Guinea and recommendations from the international shipping industry

The coming of the dry season and the statistical study of the past years suggest that acts of piracy and maritime crime will increase in the next months throughout the Gulf of Guinea. On this occasion, the major maritime associations (OCIMF, BIMCO, ICS, INTERTANKO, INTERCARGO) have published joint recommendations in addition to the BMP WA guide (Best Management Practices – West Africa) published this year.

The MICA centre and the MDAT-GoG are fully associated with this approach, and call for the highest level of vigilance for ships operating in the area.

Maritime piracy in the world: a dormant threat?

Interview with Captain Eric LAVAULT, Commander of the SIRPA Marine (Navy’s information and public relations service) invited by TV5 Monde to talk about piracy in the world and more particularly in the Gulf of Guinea, the epicenter of the phenomenon.

3rd of September 2020 : French Navy Chief of Staff visits the MICA Center.

Admiral Pierre Vandier, the French Navy’s Chief of Staff since 1st september, payed a visit to Brest to preside over the military ceremony for the inauguration of vice-admiral Olivier Lebas, the new maritime Prefect.

Admiral Vandier took advantage of his presence at the Préfecture Maritime to visit the MICA Center.

This lent us the opportunity to present to him the specificities of our organisation. These characteristics linked to the peculiarities of the various cells that make it up, such as the Maritime Domain Awareness for Trade – Gulf of Guinea (MDAT-GoG) or the Maritime Security Centre – Horn of Africa (MSCHoA) of the European operation Atalanta have been detailed.

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MDAT-GoG “Six-months” publication

In support of the Yaoundé Process, the MDAT-GoG, the Franco-British mechanism created in 2016, provides a permanent and coherent picture of the maritime security situation in the waters of the Gulf of Guinea.

In particular, its role is to alert all actors of the maritime industry of events occurring in the voluntary reporting area.

Thus, thanks to the reporting of ships and its network of contacts established in the Gulf countries, the MDAT-GoG has become the reference in the collect and dissemination of information related to the security of ships operating in the Gulf of Guinea.

All the events are listed in the “weekly” and “monthly” reports which can be downloaded from the MDAT-GoG website (see “partners” tab).  But the MDAT-GoG also produces the “six-months”. This document has just been published and it includes all the events that took place between 1 January and 30 June 2020.

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European-Led Maritime Awareness in the Strait Of Hormuz (EMASOH)

In 2019, growing insecurity and instability, which has resulted in numerous maritime incidents, have been observed in the Gulf of Oman and the Strait of Hormuz, resulting in increased regional tensions in this area that is essential to global stability. This situation is also affecting trade and energy supplies, which may have economic worldwide consequences.

In this context, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands and Portugal have decided to establish an European Maritime Surveillance Mission in the Strait of Hormuz (EMASOH) to maintain freedom of navigation in the area.

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The MICA Center at your side

The world is going through a huge crisis, all men, women are asking themselves questions, and so seafarers are asking themselves questions about their situation.

Faced with the health crisis that we are going through, the MICA Center is more than ever at the side of the maritime industry.

Because it is essential to be well informed and well protected during this exceptional situation, we remain mobilized to ensure the continuity of our missions at your service, accompanying and advising you 24/7, as we have been doing for several years. (Contacts)