Section 6: Reporting
All ships are strongly encouraged to inform military organisations of their movement as this is essential to improve military situational awareness and their ability to respond. Once ships have commenced their passage it is important this reporting continues and the guidelines in this section and annexes C, D and E are adopted to ensure common understanding. The two principal military organisations to contact are the UK Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) and Maritime Security Centre – Horn of Africa (MSCHOA).
UKMTO acts as the primary point of contact for merchant ships and their CSOs, providing liaison with military forces in the region. UKMTO administers the Voluntary Reporting Scheme, under which merchant ships are encouraged to send regular reports. These include:
- Initial report (upon entering the VRA).
- Daily reports (update on ship’s position, course and speed).
- Final reports (upon departure from VRA or arrival in port).
- Reports of suspicious/irregular activity (when necessary).
UKMTO is able to communicate with ships and CSOs directly, in order to disseminate Warnings and Advisories of incidents within the region:
- Warnings: Simple messages describing that an incident has occurred in a Lat/Long and with a time. This is normally accompanied by direct UKMTO- to-ship telephone calls to all ships within a nominated radius of the incident to give ships the earliest possible alert.
- Advisories: This is the next tier of alerts to ships, normally of sightings/ reports that are relevant within the region.
UKMTO offers regular information to ships on its website www.ukmto.org and in a weekly report summarising the previous week’s activity. UKMTO is also able to offer Masters and CSOs the opportunity to conduct drills and exercises to support their passage planning in the region. Companies that are interested can contact UKMTO on +44(0)2392 222060 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ships and their operators should complete both UKMTO vessel position reporting forms and register with MSCHOA.
The MSCHOA is the planning and coordination centre for the EU Naval Forces (EU NAVFOR). MSCHOA encourages companies to register their ships’ movements before entering the HRA and if participating in the group transit system via their website www.mschoa.org.
When departing the VRA, ships should be aware of adjacent regional reporting requirements, e.g.: NATO Shipping Centre (Mediterranean – Chart Q6010) and ReCAAP Information Sharing Center/Singapore Information Fusion Center (SE Asia – Chart Q6012).
EU NAVFOR and the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) produce Industry Releasable Threat Assessments (IRTAs) to aid risk management for companies. The threat assessments use military knowledge and intelligence to present a common understanding of the threats and trends in the region. The IRTAs are complimented by Industry Releasable Threat Bulletins (IRTBs), which cover specific events. These documents are an important resource and should be considered as part of the threat and risk assessment process.
The role of the seafarer in improving maritime safety and security in the region
Although some of the maritime threats and crimes committed do not directly endanger seafarers there is the opportunity for them to contribute to maritime security.
Experience has shown that maritime security cannot be improved by the actions of law enforcement agencies and militaries alone; seafarers operating in the region can help. This is more important in the seas off the coast of Somalia and Yemen where navies, coastguards and law enforcement agencies have limited resources.
Masters are encouraged to report suspicious activity and provide as much detail as possible. If it is possible to do so without compromising safety, photographs, video and radar plot data of suspicious activity are of enormous value to the responsible authorities. If there is any doubt as to whether the activity is suspicious, ships are encouraged to report.
Reporting suspicious activity to UKMTO
UKMTO can advise on the types of activity of interest to the regional maritime community. A guide to help identify suspicious activity is in annex C and the suspicious/irregular activity report is in annex D. Often, seafarers do not report suspicious activity as they may be concerned observations could lead to further investigations by Port States and possible delay to the ship. UKMTO will forward information received in an anonymised form to the most appropriate agency empowered to act. While suspicious activity may appear inconsequential, when added to other reports it may be extremely valuable.