The security of the maritime domain is not a given. The most important step to achieve Maritime Security is the improvement of Maritime Situational Awareness (MSA). Without a comprehensive and mutually shared understanding of what is occurring in the maritime environment, vital opportunities to detect and mitigate threats or critical vulnerabilities at the earliest opportunity may be lost.

The COE CSW has acquired considerable experience on MSA by organizing and participating in various Maritime Security Conferences, workshops and by writing multiple MSA studies. Through this process, the COE CSW has developed extensive subject expertise regarding MSA issues.

Doctrine Development

MSA is the effective understanding of anything associated with the maritime domain that could impact the security, safety, economy, or environment.

Being one of the supporting key tasks for Maritime Security Operations (MSO), MSA is defined as an enabling capability which seeks to deliver the required Information Superiority in the maritime environment to achieve a common understanding of the maritime situation. MSA is absolutely vital in order to increase effectiveness in the planning and conduct of operations.

All NATO and national maritime/Joint Operations Centers have a part in the production of accurate and timely MSA. In order to enhance MSA, data and/or information should be shared between Allies and civilian agencies as appropriate.

NATO doctrines such as Allied Tactical Publications provide commands at sea with NATO endorsed common standards. Presently the COE CSW contributes to the development of two major NATO MSA/MSO publications.

Impact of Offshore Facilities on MSA

Early in 2015, the NATO Science & Technology Board (STB) launched an initiative that aims at improving global Maritime Security. One of the selected focus areas is The conduct of Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR), Patrolling and Information Sharing – a project executed by the COE CSW in collaboration with the Bundeswehr Technical Centre for Ships and Naval Weapons, Maritime Technology and Research (WTD-71).

Today, numerous fixed offshore installations such as pipelines, wind mill farms and drilling rigs are located in Confined and Shallow Waters. These installations, in conjunction with the latest sensor technology, could contribute as forward deployed sensors to the baseline monitoring.

The final product of this joint initiative will be a study describing how fixed offshore infrastructure could support ISR and enhance MSA.

Maritime Security and Safety Network

MSA is a universal endeavour demanding a global approach. However, Maritime Security Institutions (MSI) tend to focus on regional or even local issues, each of them with a specific scope. Therefore, the establishment of lasting and mutually beneficial relationships between stakeholders across a wide spectrum of organizations at all levels, from governance and law making, to regulatory and enforcement functions, and to the business community, provide the potential to significantly enhance MSA – globally, regionally as well as locally.

In November 2016 the European Defence Agency – Maritime Surveillance Networking (MARSUR) organisation renewed a request to the COE CSW from 2014 to stimulate the establishment of a wider regional and inter-regional MSI network – Working Title: "Maritime Security and Safety Network (MarSeSaN)" – in order to enhance MSA by an improved global cooperation.

While taking the comprehensive nature of MSA into account, the COECSW aims at reaching out for non-military and non-partisan collaboration partners, preferably closely linked with the maritime domain.

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