Agreements supporting the action of the MICA Centre

The MICA Center constantly adapts to the specific features of each area and to the evolution of the threat to world maritime traffic. Thanks to its network, it is able to activate appropriate synergies to facilitate interactions and quickly and directly forward relevant information to those concerned.

The MICA Centre operates in synergy with the actors involved, through different agreements depending on the areas covered:

  • the Gulf of Guinea, where it monitors and records acts of piracy and robbery via the Franco-British agreement “Maritime Domain Awareness for Trade – Gulf of Guinea” (MDAT GoG);
  • the Horn of Africa, where it hosts the Maritime Security Centre Horn of Africa (MSC-HOA), under the command of the European Union operation ATALANTA, in the fight against piracy in this region;
  • and also, the areas of greater interest for French maritime actors, for which the MICA Centre provides surveillance services in the framework of voluntary national naval cooperation.

This unique geographical location, in Brest, allows the sharing of expertise for the benefit of all, encourages synergies, and strengthens the MICA Centre’s status as a major player in the field of maritime security.

The Maritime Domain Awareness for Trade – Gulf of Guinea (MDAT GoG)

The MICA Centre’s office for the Gulf of Guinea monitors and processes acts of piracy and robbery through the Franco-British Maritime Domain Awareness for Trade – Gulf of Guinea (MDAT GoG) agreement.

Subscription to this service is accessible to all ships operating within the Gulf of Guinea no matter their flag or nationality.

It is based upon the expertise of France within the Gulf of Guinea, the knowledge of the French Navy in terms of naval control and on the British technical expertise (through the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations – UKMTO).

It contributes to the maintenance of a consistent assessment of the maritime situation in the approaches of Central and West Africa, with the capacity to inform and support the maritime industry, thus contributing to the safety of crew members.

All information is treated with the highest degree of confidentiality and is exploited to improve the safety of people working in the maritime industry and to protect maritime trade.

Approximately 950 ships are currently registered and recorded in the MDAT-GoG, with an average of 430 ships tracked everyday.

The emergency call number of the MICA Centre in Brest appears on all the nautical charts, British and French, that are used by ships from around the world sailing in the Gulf of Guinea.

█ The Maritime Security Centre Horn of Africa (MSC-HOA)

As regards the Horn of Africa region, the MICA Centre is home to the Maritime Security Centre – Horn of Africa (MSC-HOA), subordinated to Operation Head Quarter (OHQ) Atalanta, the organization in charge of the European counter-piracy operation in the Indian Ocean.

The MSC-HOA was relocated in Brest on March 29th 2019, and the OHQ Atalanta in Rota (Spain).

The MSC-HOA :

  • monitors and shares the maritime situation within the Horn of Africa region (from the South of the Red Sea to the Somali Basin, via the Gulf of Aden);
  • serves as an interface between the command of the Operation Atalanta, shipowners and other civilian maritime actors.

In this way, it monitors merchant vessels operating in the area, communicates an assessment of the piracy threat off the Horn of Africa, is able to give alerts and shares feedback with shipowners, industry and shipping companies.

In concrete terms, ships subscribe to MSC-HOA services through a web portal and then receive the safety assessments that the OHQ establishes and that the MSC-HOA puts online. In exchange, they inform the MSC-HOA of any suspicious incident occurring within the risk area.

█ French Naval Voluntary cooperation

Over the years, France has traditionally adopted a voluntary cooperation approach between its public authorities and private maritime actors, enabling the exchange of information in the field of maritime security (piracy, terrorism, illegal immigration, illicit trafficking and cybercrime). This cooperation is open to ships that have signed a protocol.

This cooperation focuses on 4 priority areas: the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Guinea, South-East Asia and the Mediterranean Sea.

The MICA Centre acts as an interface between the commanders of the French Navy’s maritime zones in these areas, and the shipowners who operate vessels there. Such cooperation is facilitated by the on-field presence of the French warships that are regularly engaged and by the pre-positioned forces. The MICA Centre also collaborates with partner countries and structures.

Today, 24 companies and 276 French ships or ships of French interest can rely on a daily monitoring within the framework of this voluntary naval cooperation. This principle of cooperation can of course be extended.