The MICA Center constantly adapts to the specific features of each area and to the evolution of the threat to world maritime traffic. Thanks to its network, it is able to activate appropriate synergies to facilitate interactions and quickly and directly forward relevant information to those concerned.
The MICA Center operates in synergy with the actors involved, through different agreements depending on the areas covered:
- the Gulf of Guinea, where it monitors and records acts of piracy and robbery via the Franco-British agreement “Maritime Domain Awareness for Trade – Gulf of Guinea” (MDAT GoG) in support of the architecture of Yaoundé;
- the Horn of Africa, where it hosts the Maritime Security Center Horn of Africa (MSC-HOA), under the command of the European Union operation ATALANTA, in the fight against piracy in this region;
- and also, the areas of greater interest for French maritime actors, for which the MICA Center provides surveillance services in the framework of voluntary national naval cooperation.
This unique geographical location, in Brest, allows the sharing of expertise for the benefit of all, encourages synergies, and strengthens the MICA Center’s status as a major player in the field of maritime security.
█ The Maritime Domain Awareness for Trade – Gulf of Guinea (MDAT GoG)
The MICA Center’s office for the Gulf of Guinea monitors and processes acts of piracy and robbery through the Franco-British Maritime Domain Awareness for Trade – Gulf of Guinea (MDAT GoG) agreement.
Subscription to this service is accessible to all ships operating within the Gulf of Guinea no matter their flag or nationality.
It is based upon the expertise of France within the Gulf of Guinea, the knowledge of the French Navy in terms of naval control and on the British technical expertise (Maritime Trade Information Center MTIC which brings together the British unit of the MDAT GoG as well as the UK Maritime Trade Operations UKMTO).
It contributes to the maintenance of a consistent assessment of the maritime situation in the approaches of Central and West Africa, with the capacity to inform and support the maritime industry, thus contributing to the safety of crew members.
All information is treated with the highest degree of confidentiality and is exploited to improve the safety of people working in the maritime industry and to protect maritime trade.
On average, around 1,100 vessels are continuously monitored and voluntarily register with MDAT-GoG on a daily basis.
The emergency call number of the MICA Center in Brest appears on all the nautical charts, British and French, that are used by ships from around the world sailing in the Gulf of Guinea and which implement the Best Management Practices (BMP) defined by the international maritime industry.
█ The Maritime Security Center Horn of Africa (MSC-HOA)
As regards the Horn of Africa region, the MICA Center is home to the Maritime Security Center – Horn of Africa (MSC-HOA), subordinated to Operation Head Quarter (OHQ) Atalanta, the organization in charge of the European counter-piracy operation in the Indian Ocean.
The MSC-HOA was relocated in Brest on March 29th 2019, and the OHQ Atalanta in Rota (Spain).
The MSC-HOA :
- monitors and shares the maritime situation within the Horn of Africa region (from the South of the Red Sea to the Somali Basin, via the Gulf of Aden);
- serves as an interface between the command of the Operation Atalanta, shipowners and other civilian maritime actors.
In this way, it monitors merchant vessels operating in the area, communicates an assessment of the piracy threat off the Horn of Africa, is able to give alerts and shares feedback with shipowners, industry and shipping companies.
In concrete terms, ships subscribe to MSC-HOA services through a web portal and then receive the safety assessments that the OHQ establishes and that the MSC-HOA puts online. In exchange, they inform the MSC-HOA of any suspicious incident occurring within the risk area.
█ French Naval Voluntary cooperation
Over the years, France has traditionally adopted a voluntary cooperation approach between its public authorities and private maritime actors, enabling the exchange of information in the field of maritime security (piracy, terrorism, illegal immigration, illicit trafficking and cybercrime). This cooperation is open to ships and French/foreign companies linked to maritime safety and signatories of a protocol with the French Navy.
This cooperation focuses on 4 priority areas: the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Guinea, South-East Asia and the Mediterranean Sea. However, companies making the request can request specific security assessments anywhere in the world.
The MICA Center acts as an interface between the commanders of the French Navy’s maritime zones in these areas, and the shipowners and the maritime industry. Such cooperation is facilitated by the on-field presence of the French warships that are regularly engaged and by the pre-positioned forces. The MICA Center also collaborates with partner countries and structures.
Forty companies representing several hundred ships now benefit from specific monitoring as part of this voluntary naval cooperation. This principle of cooperation can obviously be generalized.