MICA CENTER: SPOTLIGHT ON PIRACY

The article dedicated to the fight against piracy at sea and the presentation of the MICA Center, in the maritime magazine Le Chasse-Marée, begins with these words.

In the April-May 2021 issue of the magazine, a 16-page long article, by Jean-Yves Béquignon, gives an overview of piracy from the mid-2000s to the present day.

Piracy, or rather, piracies, are described according to the shapes they take in the different regions of the world, as well as the responses developed to fight this criminal activity. An important part of the article is dedicated to the MICA Center, the genesis of its creation in 2016, under the authority of the French Navy, as well as the functioning of the different cells that compose it.

The full article is available on the magazine’s website:

https://www.chasse-maree.com/mica-center-pleins-feux-sur-la-piraterie/

The MICA Center takes part in a webinar

“The MDAT-GoG is a reference organization for the maritime industry with which it exchanges very regularly in order to improve its processes and contribute more effectively to the security of maritime spaces in the Gulf of Guinea.”

This is the message that the commanding officer of the MICA Center stressed during the coordination meeting of international partners in the maritime sector of the Gulf of Guinea. This meeting, in webinar format due to the health crisis, is organized by the European Union program to secure critical maritime routes.

This conference was an opportunity for many state, community and private partners to share their experience and strategies for the region.

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Wednesday, 10th February 2021 : Creation of the MDAT GoG Twitter account

The MDAT-GoG created its Twitter account on February 10, 2021 to publish in real time warnings, advisories, notices and updates.

The exchange of information and the development of national and international cooperation between the actors of the maritime communities remains more than ever necessary to ensure the safety of navigation in the Gulf of Guinea, the epicenter of piracy.

To prevent attacks against merchant ships and better protect them from the risk of piracy, it is essential to relay any incident or proven threat as quickly as possible.

If instantaneity is the first advantage of Twitter, this major and essential social network also allows the MDAT-GoG to meet and exchange with the community of maritime security actors involved in the fight against piracy.

Reminder on the interest of properly applying the measures recommended by the BMP West Africa (BMP WA)

On Saturday 23/01 the container ship MOZART, Liberian flag, Turkish ship-owner was attacked by at least 4 pirates, west of Sao Tome.

The crew immediately rallied the citadel but the pirates managed to force their way into the dedicated room after 6 hours.

During this attack, one crewmember has been killed and two other sailors injured.

Before leaving the ship, the pirates took 15 crewmembers as hostages.

The MICA Center and all of its teams regret the tragic turn of events.

This attack took place in an area that had been the subject of an alert message issued the preceding day by the MDAT-GoG on the very probable presence of pirates and on a potential imminent attack by them.

More than ever, the MICA Center calls on sailors operating in the Gulf of Guinea to respect the recommendations of the BMP West Africa (BMP WA).

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Thursday, 07th January 2021 : 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.