Maritime Situational Awareness

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 for achieving 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 or 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.

In a second phase of this initiative, efforts are now more focused on the underwater domain as the Alliance must be able to deny an opponent achieving its objectives in employing subsurface systems and platforms. Hence, NATO forces must be capable to detect, locate, classify, identify and track underwater platforms, to deter them, and – when required – control an operations area.

Today, numerous fixed offshore installations such as pipelines, wind parks, 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.

One key objective is to gather an all-encompassing reliable contact-data-set as well as the reduction of reaction times for decision-makers on the political and military level with regard to relevant critical and abnormal events. Such events can occur at any place, at any time; hence a 24/7 sensor coverage is mandatory.

The COE CSW, in collaboration with the Bundeswehr Technical Centre for Ships and Naval Weapons, Maritime Technology and Research (WTD-71), forwarded a proposal for a three-year project to the NATO Science & Technology Board (STB) that supports the NATO initiative to enhance Maritime Situational Awareness (MSA) in Confined and Shallow waters.

Maritime Security and Safety Network

MSA is a universal endeavour demanding for a global approach. Interlinking the players in the maritime domain by establishment of an interconnecting structure or system provides the potential to significantly enhance MSA – globally, regionally, as well as locally. Such a network should include the broadest possible spectrum of organisations at all levels, ranging from governance and law making to regulatory and enforcement functions, it should also integrate the maritime business community, and involve as many vessels as possible.

In November 2016 the European Defence Agency (EDA) – Maritime Surveillance Networking (MARSUR) organisation issued a request to the COE CSW to investigate options for stimulating the establishment of a wider regional and inter-regional MSA network – Working Title: Maritime Security and Safety Network (MarSeSaN).



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