About MSCHOA and OP ATALANTA
The Maritime Security Centre – Horn of Africa
With up to 95% of EU member state’s trade (by volume) transported by sea and 20% of Global Trade passing through the Gulf of Aden, EU NAVFOR provide considerable focus to safeguard trade through this strategic area.
The Maritime Security Centre – Horn of Africa (MSC-HOA) is an initiative established by EU NAVFOR with close co-operation from industry. The MSC-HOA centre 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 industry and for Shipping Companies and operators to register their movements through the region.
A further initiative is the introduction of Group Transits where vessels are co-ordinated to transit through high risk areas overnight when attacks are reduced. This enables military forces to ‘sanitise’ the area ahead of the merchant ships. MSCHOA will also identify particularly vulnerable shipping and coordinate appropriate protection arrangements, either from within EU NAVFOR, or other forces in the region.
Finally in between routine or baseline operations, EU NAVFOR conducts focused operations aimed at achieving specific effects within a given area or time window. By concentrating forces to achieve specific effects EU NAVFOR can provide influence, deterrence or insight into legitimate and illicit activities in order to better co-ordinate future activities to deter piracy and armed robbery and thus reassure legitimate merchant mariners.
European Union Naval Operation Against Piracy
Aim and Mandate
The European Union is conducting a military operation to help deter, prevent and repress acts of piracy and armed robbery off the coast of Somalia.
This military operation, named European Union Naval Force Somalia – Operation ATALANTA, was launched in support of Resolutions 1814, 1816, 1838 and 1846 which were adopted in 2008 by the United Nations Security Council.
Its mandate is to contribute to:
• protect vessels of the World Food Programme, humanitarian aid and African Union Military Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) shipping
•protect vulnerable shipping
•help deter, prevent and repress acts of piracy and armed robbery
•monitor fishing activities off the coast of Somalia
This operation – the European Union’s first naval operation – is being conducted in the framework of the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP).
The operation which was scheduled for an initial period of twelve months has now been extended by the council until Sep 2012. During this period up to 12 EU ships and a number Maritime Patrol Aircraft will operate at any one time.
At the present time, eight EU member states are making a permanent operational contribution to the operation: Italy, Netherlands, Germany, France, Spain, Belgium, Luxemburg and Greece. Contributions from third countries such as Norway are participating as well. Also, a number of Cypriot, Irish, Finnish, Maltese and Sweden military personnel supplement the team at the Northwood Operation Headquarters.
The military personnel involved in the operation can arrest, detain and transfer persons who are suspected of, or who have committed, acts of piracy or armed robbery in the areas where they are present. They can seize the vessels of the pirates or the vessels captured following an act of piracy or an armed robbery and which are in the hands of the pirates, as well as the goods on board. The suspects can be prosecuted, as appropriate, by an EU member state or by Kenya under the agreement signed with the EU on 6 March 2009 giving the Kenyan authorities the right to prosecute.
The European naval force operates in a zone comprising the south of the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden and part of the Indian Ocean, which now includes the Seychelles, which represents an area comparable to that of the Mediterranean. A considerable international Naval presence is now in this zone and provide permanent or temporary backup to the action conducted by the European naval force. The EU NAVFOR operation is in permanent liaison with these forces (CTF-151, NATO Maritime Group, Russian, Indian, Japanese and Chinese vessels).
The joint funding of the operation amounts to EUR 8,3 millions for the first year. This budget, which is shared between the EU member states and is established on the basis of their GDP, mainly covers the running costs of the OHQ and the FHQ. The common costs for supplying the force are shared by the contributing countries and established according to their involvement in the operation, with each country continuing to bear the cost of the resources it implements.
World Food Programme
Since escorts began in late 2007, not a single ship carrying WFP food to ports in Somalia has been attacked by pirates. Under the EU Atalanta operation, which started in December 2008, WFP has delivered more than 385.992 metric tons of food into Somalia through Mogadishu, Merka, Bossaso, Berbera ports.
“WFP remains extremely grateful to the EU for committing itself to escorting ships carrying WFP food for 2009, giving us the long-term protection that our shipments need, especially in view of the increasing need for assistance.”
Each merchant vessel wishing to transit through the Gulf of Aden or off the coast of Somalia is requested to register in advance on the website of the Maritime Security Center-Horn of Africa (www.mschoa.eu), which was set up at the beginning of the operation to facilitate the coordination of maritime traffic.
This initiative, which was welcomed by the whole community of shipowners and merchant navies, makes it possible for vessels that observe EU NAVFOR recommendations to know what arrangements are in place and in some cases, close military protection will be provided thus reducing the risk of attacks or capture.
A Comprehensive European Approach
Operation EU NAVFOR is part of the global action conducted by the EU in the Horn of Africa to deal with the Somali crisis, which has political, security and humanitarian aspects.
The EU supports the Djibouti process for peace and reconciliation in Somalia, facilitated by the UN. In this context, the EU welcomed the election of President Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed on 30 January 2009. The EU is multiplying its efforts to support the peace process and has called on all parties in Somalia to ease the suffering of the population and to seize this opportunity to work towards the restoration of security, stability and development in Somalia. The government also has the task of delivering a new constitution, to be adopted by referendum, and of setting up democratically elected institutions by the end of the transition period in August 2011.
The EU and its member states support the African Union military mission in Somalia (AMISOM) financially, in terms of planning and capacity building, in order to increase, in particular, the efficiency of the Somali police force and to combat any abuse and serious violation of human rights. The Joint Strategy Paper for Somalia for 2008 – 2013 provides an allocation of EUR 215,8 million under the EC’s 10th European Development Fund (EDF) It covers three main sectors of cooperation: governance, education and rural development. The issue of the security of maritime routes is also included in the European Commission’s 2009-2011 indicative programme.