nations, and monitors the activities
of the Atalanta ships while also serving as a link between the military
and the maritime industry.
The JOC uses a variety of sources
to keep track of the different naval
units, commercial shipping and vessels of interest. One of the most useful is the Automated Information
System (AIS), required on all commercial ships of more than 300
tons, which uses transponders to
indicate what a particular vessel is
and where it’s going.
About 4,500 ships a month
transit through the area, most
along the internationally recommended transit corridor.
“About 75 to 80 percent of them
register with us,” Sherriff said.
Registration is voluntary but worthwhile.
“We monitor the best picture, not just from the
Automated Information System, but based on registrations
— up to 5,000 registrations per month,” Richter said.
The efforts of the naval patrols have contributed to
the dramatic drop in pirate attacks near Somalia.
“The threat is diminished, but not eliminated,”
Sherriff said. “If the international community becomes
complacent, the pirates will return.”
The United States participates in the Combined
Maritime Forces’ multinational Combined Task Force
151, a counter-piracy task force. The EU ships benefit
from cooperation with the U.S. Navy.
“Our ships have been refueling from the USNS
Laramie,” Sherriff said.
There also are non-military organizations involved.
The United Kingdom Marine Trade Operations has
established an office in Dubai that serves as a primary
point of contact for private and merchant vessels in
case of a pirate attack in the Gulf of Aden and adjacent
waters, and administers the Voluntary Reporting
Scheme. The International Maritime Bureau, which is
part of the International Chamber of Commerce, operates the Piracy Reporting Centre in Kuala Lumpur,
Malaysia, to serve the shipping industry as a clearing
house for pirate attacks and criminal activity.
Simon Church, a former shipping executive and EU
NAVFOR’s maritime industry liaison officer, described
the relationship with the merchant marine community
as a “partnership with trust.”
Common Operating Picture
Forces working together need to share a common operating picture. This is especially true for Vice Adm.
James G. Foggo III, commander of U.S. Sixth Fleet and
Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO.
“I have one MOC, but in two locations,” Foggo said.
“One here in Naples, and one afloat on the flagship, the
USS Mount Whitney. They have identical capabilities.”
The MOC can be reconfigured for any mission, and
any work station can perform any function. It features
a state-of-the art “fusion wall.” Information can be lay-
ered to present unclassified data such as AIS contacts
with classified information from military sources.
The MOC is connected with NATO, EU NAVFOR
and other allied and partner MOCs. Foggo said his
MOC also routinely works with MOCs in Africa, especially when centers are manned up for large-scale exercises such as the Express series that take place around
the African continent each year.
Most MOCs are different in some ways, but can share
information with each other using the Marine Safety and
Security Information System (MSSIS) and display it with
SeaVision, a Google Maps-based marine vessel visualization tool, both developed by the U.S. Department of
Transportation’s Volpe Center in Cambridge, Mass. MSSIS
not only shares AIS and radar data, but allows watch
standers to send chat messages to each other.
Chat also has been useful in counter-piracy operations,
where merchant ships and patrolling warships and even
aircraft can talk to operations centers and each other
through an unclassified chat service called Mercury.
Changi C2 Centre
A major hub for maritime information is the Changi
Command and Control ( C2) Centre at the Republic of
Singapore Navy naval base where the Singapore
Maritime Crisis Centre (SMCC), the Information
Fusion Centre (IFC), the Multinational Operations
The Italian Navy’s Maritime Operations Center can be scaled to support normal operations or a major crisis.