MARITIME DOMAIN AWARENESS
Maritime Operations Centers (MOCs) are a focal point for the collection, display, analy- sis and exchange of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance information and other data
necessary to maintain safe and secure naval and commercial activity at sea.
MOCs may primarily be military or civilian, but are
useful to align and coordinate information between the
two communities. While MOCs have a local flavor,
they also share some common traits and attributes, in
part because they are designed to share information.
Two distinctly different yet related operations centers are located on the same military base in
Northwood, England, not far from London, serving
NATO’s Allied Maritime Command (MARCOM) and
the European Union’s counter-piracy operation off the
coast of Somalia (EU NAVFOR Somalia).
According to Capt. Henk Monderen of the Royal
Netherlands Navy and branch head for MARCOM’s current operations, the relationship between MARCOM
and the EU, along with the Bahrain-based Combined
Maritime Forces missions, is crucial to the success of
Operation Ocean Shield, the NATO counter-piracy mission off Somalia.
“Unity of command is not possible, so to make the
most of scarce ships and surveillance assets, ‘unity of effort’
is required,” Monderen said. “EU,
MARCOM and Combined Maritime
Forces — the ‘Big Three’ — closely
coordinate the coverage of the IRTC
Transit Corridor] to ensure there are
always sufficient counter-piracy war-
ships and maritime patrol aircraft
available. The Big Three meet regu-
larly and, together with most of the
independent deployers, interact peri-
odically in the so called ‘SHared
Awareness and DEconfliction,’
MARCOM provides the full spectrum of joint mar-
itime operations for NATO, and hosts NATO’s opera-
tions centers for submarines and maritime aircraft, and
the NATO Shipping Center, which serves as the liaison
with NATO and the shipping community.
“MARCOM’s operations room can manage the full
spectrum of joint maritime operations for NATO,” said
U.S. Navy Cmdr. Anthony Savage, maritime security oper-
ations staff officer and a duty commander during crisis
operations. “We can flex to meet any response level.”
Also located at Northwood is the EU NAVFOR opera-
tion center for Operation Atalanta, protecting the World
Food Programme’s shipments to Somalia, and conduc-
ting counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden and
Indian Ocean. The Joint Operations Center (JOC) is well
connected with other counter-piracy participants.
“By sharing information, any of the operations centers
can quickly see who is close to a vessel in distress, and
[that a] naval ship is dispatched to respond,” said
German Navy Cmdr. Joachim Richter, who heads the
JOC. “That doesn’t mean there will be one close by,
because the area we’re dealing with is vast — you can fit
all of Western Europe in the area we’re operating in.”
According to EU NAVFOR Somalia spokeswoman
Royal Navy Cmdr. Jacqueline Sherriff, the JOC is manned
around the clock with personnel from eight participating
Maritime Operations Centers collect, collaborate and coordinate
By EDWARD LUNDQUIST, Special Correspondent
Common Operating Picture
Maritime Operations Centers (MOCs) focus on developing a common operating picture for maritime security, situational awareness.
; MOCs can exchange and share unclassified information and
classified intelligence as appropriate.
; The centers are scalable, and can flex to handle any contingency.
; The military and maritime industry work together to create a
more complete common operating picture.