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 MICA Center in the afternoon and searched the area using its helicopter to no avail.

In the evening, the shipowner informed the MICA Center 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)

PUBLICATION OF THE BEST MANAGEMENT PRACTICES West Africa (BMP WA)

The MICA Center invites you to read and apply the advice given in the BMP WA.

The maritime security situation off the west coast of Africa is complex. The BMP WA is written and published to assist ships and mariners in adopting behavior that should prevent them from becoming victims of maritime incidents in the waters of the Gulf of Guinea.

In particular, the publication aims to assist ships in planning their voyage and in detecting, avoiding, deterring, delaying and reporting attacks against them.

The consequences of the lack of effective security measures can be serious, as some pirates subject their crews to ill-treatment and long periods of captivity.

Other attacks demonstrate that, even if kidnapping is unsuccessful, there is evidence of intentions to damage ships, seize cargo and endanger lives.

Download the BMP WA HERE.

March 29, 2020: First anniversary for the MSCHoA in Brest

The Maritime Security Center-Horn of Africa (MSCHoA) is the interface between the civilian maritime world and the European Union’s military counter-piracy operation ATALANTA, which deploys a maritime task force off the Somali coast for almost 12 years.

This centre monitors merchant ships sailing in the region, spreads the threat of piracy off the Horn of Africa and relays the alert in the event of an attack.

It has been co-located with the military command in Northwood, Great Britain, since the beginning of the operation in 2008. In March 2019, BREXIT resulted in the relocation of this headquarters to Rota (Spain) for the military command and to Brest for the MSCHoA.

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MDAT-GoG: +33 (0) 298 228 888 / watchkeepers@mdat-gog.org

It is recommended that vessels register and report any suspicious incidents or activities they observe as soon as possible. This will help to reduce incidents of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.

On Thursday 5 and Friday 6 March 2020, three piracy incidents were recorded in the Gulf of Guinea, the epicentre of global maritime piracy.

The MDAT-GoG has been proactive in relaying information as soon as possible.

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