Missions Operationsmaritime piracyReport

(Mica center 2) Voluntary naval cooperation: preventing, informing, alerting

(B2) Established between the Navy and French shipowners, the voluntary naval cooperation (CNV) system is based on a fairly simple principle: the exchange of information

Voluntary naval control is divided into four areas. Here the Atlantic-Mediterranean zone (© NGV / B2)

Once registered with the MICA Center, the captain of the vessel (or his crew) can receive security information on the areas where the protocol applies and recommendations on the conduct to be adopted.

One registration, three reasons

In practice, voluntary naval control includes:

• the report of the intentions and movements of ships by their captain to the national monitoring center and to the maritime zone commanders (CZM) when they transit through zones at risk of piracy or terrorism;

• dissemination to company safety officers and ship captains of information relating to the nautical and military situation in their area, and recommendations for routes to follow and behavior to adopt;

• merchant vessels are invited to report any event or activity at sea or in port that appears suspicious and could be linked to transnational crime and illicit activities. This allows the Navy to have a more in-depth knowledge of the various risk areas and the activities that take place there.

Currently, four zones of naval control have been defined: the Gulf of Guinea, the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, the Indian Ocean and Southeast Asia.

The objective: the protection of maritime traffic

Voluntary Naval Control thus contributes to the protection of maritime traffic, by making it possible to follow ships and, if necessary, to orient them “We underline the maritime prefecture of Brest. In case of difficulty, this follow-up allows us to be able to assist them as soon as possible ».

A file on each vessel

« We have a file on each ship. As soon as they enter the zone. They give basic information, the telephone of the ship, the mess, the contact of the CSO (company security officer). » Which then allows the officers on watch to be able to react more quickly in the event of an incident.

In case of alert

Regardless of the center, the procedure is essentially the same in the event of an alert. The operator answers 24 hours a day, 24 days a week, 7 days a year. It takes all the information. A standard sheet allows you to note all the information: the position, the crew list, the telephone number of the citadel, etc. There may be stress. “ Sometimes the duty officer heard the sounds of a struggle in the background on the phone. » We might as well not forget anything. To alleviate this stress, some buildings have pre-recorded messages to raise the alert.

The baton passed to operational

The duty officer then notifies all stakeholders, depending on the type of incident, the area concerned and the MICA unit that has been alerted. For example one of the operational centers based in one of the countries bordering the Gulf of Guinea or the headquarters in Rota (in Spain) — if the incident takes place in the Gulf of Aden or in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Somalia or Kenya. Brest then hands over the entire operational aspect: the dispatch and intervention of ships and planes.

Convoys organized in the Gulf of Aden 

In the international corridor (IRTC) the notion of convoy has become rather the exception today, whereas during the acute phase of piracy, it had become a regular mode of crossing. But some ships still prefer this somewhat complex procedure. In general, these are ships that could be too sensitive prey (slower ships, with shallow draft, etc.). “ We are trying to bring them together, and have a tighter escort, to accompany them in the progression towards the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea » explains an MSCHOA officer. They then register on a list and a slot is organized for passage.

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)


The citadel, an anti-piracy centerpiece

It has become a key part of the crew's safety in the face of a pirate attack. Often placed in the heart of the boat, it does not normally appear in the plan of the ship and is designed to last, with food and communications. In recent constructions, the citadel is integrated into the ship's plans, with an integrated telecommunications network. The whole crew gets involved. And he then leaves the ship stationary. “ After a while, the pirates know they can't stay much longer. From the moment they see ways coming, that there is an answer, they will not insist », says an officer. Especially in the Gulf of Guinea, where the objective is more rapid theft than the hostage industry for ransoms as for Somali piracy. This one does not really have a refuge to manage the hostages, unlike its older 'sister' in East Africa which had vast areas without control.


To learn more about voluntary naval cooperation, you can download (and read) theministerial instruction of April 2019

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).