In the vast ocean, the Automatic Identification System (AIS) provides the identification of the ships. Under AIS, there are transceivers installed on ships that provide information such as unique identification of vessel, speed, course, position, true bearing, radio call sign, ETA, etc. on the electronic chart display and information system (ECDIS). This set of information is used to track ships and monitor their movement for better navigation, avoiding collision, grounding, managing traffic in congested areas, and even identifying ships in distress.
The accident of the large container freighter “Ever Given” (IMO 9811000) on March 23, 2021 in the Suez Canal will keep the global shipping industry busy for years to come. Many questions remain unanswered: Could an accident like this have happened in northern Germany, for example on the Elbe at the gates of the port of Hamburg? Or: What should be done to quickly remove a blockage? Hans von Wecheln, maritime consultant from Husum, shared his ideas with THB (Täglicher Hafenbericht) and FleetMon. We publish the letter with the kind approval of the THB chief editor.
Let me tell you a story from an upcoming John McTiernan movie: A ship is sailing peacefully 200 nautical miles off the Nigerian coastline, literally being in the middle of nowhere. Out of the blue, pirates manage to strike the ship and end up boarding it eventually. The crew, in their natural response, gather in a safe room, fearing their safety.
However, the pirates set aloof in their efforts in entering the ship’s bridge. It takes them six hours to bypass the Citadel, but they do it eventually. The pirates manage to kidnap 15 crew members and unfortunately, kill one member in skirmishes. How will they be saved? And most importantly, who will save them?
Think this is a plot good enough to be a sequel to Paul Greengrass’s Captain Phillips? Well, think again.
Evidently, I lied to you before when I told you it was going to be the next John McTiernan classic. It isn’t. This happened in real life on board the containership MOZART, which, unlike its namesake musician, wasn’t very lucky. FleetMon reported about the piracy attack in Jan 2021.
So, welcome to the Gulf of Guinea, where militant activities, armed robberies, crew killings, and tanker boardings are as common as the morning light. Before delving deeper into the possible remedies to these acute problems and the factors behind them, let’s break the situation down to you so you have a coherent understanding of the same.
National Coast Watch Center: A Look at the country’s Maritime Inter-Agency Set-Up
Maritime domain awareness (MDA) is defined by the International Maritime Organization as the effective understanding of anything associated with the maritime domain that could impact the security, safety, economy, or environment. The maritime domain is defined as all areas and things of, on, under, relating to, adjacent to, or bordering on a sea, ocean, or other navigable waterway, including all maritime-related activities, infrastructure, people, cargo, and vessels and other conveyances.
We received the following article by Ely Loyd A. Villarosa, currently the Senior Intelligence Analyst of the Philippines’ National Coast Watch Center: The article is about the Philippines’ National Coast Watch Center, the only government agency that caters inter-agency mechanisms for maritime security operations. The NCWC was funded by the US government through the Defense Threat Reduction Agency.
In 2011, then-President Benigno S. Aquino III signed Executive Order No. 57 creating the National Coast Watch System as the central inter-agency mechanism for a coordinated and coherent approach on maritime issues and maritime security operations towards enhancing governance in the Philippines’ maritime domain. One of its organs is the National Coast Watch Center, the implementing and operating arm of the System.