A landmark visit took place at the Maritime Security Centre – Horn of Africa (MSCHOA) on 22nd Jan 2017, when delegates from the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC), Madagascar and Seychelles visited the Operational Headquarters of the EU Naval Force in Northwood, London.
Sponsored by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office as part of British efforts to improve the maritime domain awareness of countries in the Indian Ocean region, the talks were held to establish stronger operational links between the EU operation which has been fighting piracy at sea since 2008, and the newly-established regional operational centres in Madagascar and the Seychelles.
Delegates from the IOC member countries included the commander of the Malagasy Navy, Vice Admiral Ranaivoseheno, as well as members of the Regional Maritime Intelligence Fusion Centre (RMIFC) in Antananarivo; and the Regional Centre for Operational Coordination (RCOC) in Victoria. The two centres are supported by the EU Critical Maritime Routes (CRIMARIO) and Maritime Security (MASE) programmes.
The Chief Of Staff of EU NAVFOR, Colonel Richard Cantrill said: “This was an opportunity to discuss how we establish relationships between the region and EU NAVFOR in order to build maritime capability” as the discussions progressed he added: “Cooperation and coordination between EUTM, EUCAP, CMF and regional partners all add up to team effort that helps to improve maritime capability and security as we conduct counter-piracy and repression of armed robbery at sea.”
The delegates had the opportunity to see how the MSCHOA operates which provides key support to the operations of EU NAVFOR. A detailed intelligence brief was also provided to enable the delegates to discuss and understand the threats in the region; this was based around the latest Industry Releasable Threat Assessment (IRTA).
Under the agreement of the IOC Council of Ministers, the RMIFC will collect and analyse maritime information on a continuous basis, with a view to anticipating risks and threats in the Western Indian Ocean; and the RCOC will be responsible for organising any necessary operational response at sea jointly with the Regional States of the Eastern and Southern Africa-Indian Ocean (ESA-IO).
The regional delegation was led by the IOC, which earlier this month assumed the chairmanship of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS) from the Republic of Seychelles (a role formerly held by the European Union from 2014-16).