With up to 95% of EU Member States’ trade (by volume) transported by sea and between 12.5% and 20% of global trade passing through the Gulf of Aden, EU NAVFOR gives considerable effort to safeguarding trade through this strategic area.
The Maritime Security Centre – Horn of Africa (MSCHOA) situated in the OHQ is an initiative established by EU NAVFOR with close co-operation from industry. The MSCHOA provides 24-hour manned monitoring of vessels transiting through the Gulf of Aden, whilst the provision of an interactive website enables the Centre to communicate the latest anti-piracy guidance to the Maritime Industry, and for shipping companies and operators to register their vessels’ movements through the region.
Owners and operators who have vessels transiting the region are strongly encouraged to register their movements with MSCHOA to improve their security and reduce the risk of attacks or capture. Additionally, the “Best Management Practices for Protection against Somalia Based Piracy” (BMP) and further information about combating piracy, and what action to take should they come under attack, can be downloaded.
A further initiative is the introduction of Group Transits; vessels are co-ordinated to transit together through the IRTC. This enables military forces to “sanitise” the area ahead of the merchant ships. MSCHOA will also identify particularly vulnerable shipping and co-ordinate appropriate protection arrangements, either from within EU NAVFOR, or other forces in the region. EU NAVFOR also conducts focussed operations aimed at achieving specific effects within a given area or time window. By concentrating forces EU NAVFOR can provide influence, deterrence or insight into legitimate activities, and thereby co-ordinate better future activities to deter piracy and armed robbery at sea, and thus re-assure legitimate merchant mariners.