EU Maritime Security: Exercise in the Gulf of Guinea strengthens coordination in the fight against piracy and criminal activity at sea
This year’s iteration of the GANO took place from 2 to 7 November and involved, together with Yaoundé Architecture’s Interregional and Regional Coordination Centres, all West Africa coastal states Navies from Senegal to Angola with their Maritime Operation Centres (MOCs) and assets. The Regional Navies were assisted in the conduct of the scenario-based exercises by French Survey Frigate FS Germinal, Brazilian Ocean Patrol Vessel BNS Amazonas, British Offshore Patrol Vessels HMS Trent, Portuguese Patrol Vessel NRP Zaire, and Italian Multi-Mission Frigate ITS Antonio Marceglia. France also participated with a Falcon 50 aircraft.
YARIS, an information sharing system developed by the EU GOGIN project, for and with the Yaoundé Architecture, was available to all these assets, which used a version of the system developed specifically to be used on board of vessels and aircraft. This enabled an unprecedented real-time collaboration between the partners’ naval forces and aircraft present in the area and the Yaoundé Architecture maritime operations centres.
The scenarios of the exercises comprised Illegal, Unreported, Unregulated (IUU) Fishing, Piracy, Pollution, Drugs trafficking, Arms Trafficking and Illegal migration events. The Direction of the Exercise (DIREX) staff was hosted in the premises of the Centre Regional de Securité Maritime de l’Afrique Centrale (CRESMAC), located in Pointe-Noire, Congo. The DIREX followed the many exercises conducted, at times simultaneously, in the vast Exercise Area, through the YARIS platform.
The full operational capability of the system was achieved in September 2020 and, since then, it has been available for the Yaounde Architecture Centres to use within their operational activity. GANO 21 was also the occasion to test the large-scale use of this secure platform. A simplified user guide of YARIS, distributed prior to the exercise, was also validated during GANO.
The French, Italian and Portuguese ships participating to the exercise are also contributing to the EU Coordinated Maritime Presences (CMP) initiative. The CMP enables the EU to use deployed member states naval and air assets in order to increase its capacity to act as a maritime security provider/partner.
Coordination among the Member States assets takes place on a voluntary basis, with assets remaining under the national chains of command. This light and flexible instrument allows EU member states present in areas of interest to share awareness, analysis and information through the Maritime Area of Interest Coordination Cell (MAICC) established within the EU Military Staff, using the MARSUR network, a technical solution developed by the European Defence Agency.
By building synergies between deployed EU Member States’ assets, the CMP mechanism will be beneficial to all Member States, and at the same time, it ensures a permanent and visible European maritime presence and outreach around the world. In particular, the CMP, through the four ships deployed in the Gulf of Guinea, will contribute to address the security challenges in the region, enhancing coordination between Members States' assets operating in this area and fostering cooperation with the coastal States and the organisation of the Yaoundé Architecture to tackle piracy and criminal activity at sea.