Information to aid passage planning and Situational Awareness (SA)
The folio of Maritime Security Charts (MSCs) is based on familiar navigational charts and the maritime security information they contain is included to aid passage planning and Situational Awareness (SA). MSCs are maintained by regular engagement with shipping companies, maritime organisations and the military. The content is aligned with existing SOLAS publications.
Emergency contact details and maritime security points of contact
The regional Emergency Contact authority details are included and highlighted on the MSCs, these are normally the primary providers of maritime security information to ships that are transiting High-Risk Areas (HRAs) or areas of perceived risk. These centres also receive reports from shipping transiting Voluntary Reporting Areas (VRA) or those involved in Maritime Security related incidents. These centres provide the information flow between the Military and the international shipping community. In addition, a Maritime Security Points of Contact list is included with recommendations of those authorities and personnel who should be contacted once the emergency call is completed.
United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) centre located in Dubai, is often the primary point of contact for merchant shipping involved in maritime security issues in the Indian Ocean region, particularly the HRA. The UKMTO operates the VRA as illustrated on UKHO MSC Q6099.
NATO Shipping Centre (NSC) is responsible for Operation Sea Guardian which is a maritime security operation in the Mediterranean Sea, the Strait of Gibraltar and approaches (outside the territorial waters of regional nations). NATO encourages commercial shipping entering and transiting this geographical area to take part in the Mediterranean Voluntary Reporting Scheme (MVRS) as depicted on UKHO MSC Q6110.
Reporting procedures for VRAs
There are several voluntary reporting schemes in operation worldwide and each MSC provides details of the voluntary reporting requirements within the geographical region and includes the reporting formats. The accompanying instructions give details of when they should be completed and where they should be sent. This covers both the regional reporting centres and any additional reporting requirement from military authorities undertaking protection and assurance to transiting vessels.
Example of VRA reporting procedures
Maritime Transit Corridors (MTC) have been established in several different geographical areas to enable military assets and regional maritime authorities focus their presence and surveillance efforts.
The Maritime Security Transit Corridor (MSTC) is a military established corridor that includes the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor as shown on MSC Q6099.
The Transit Corridors in the Sulu Sea and Celebes Sea were established by a trilateral cooperative arrangement between Indonesia, Malaysia and The Philippines. These corridors are designated safety areas and are patrolled by the 3 countries to allow commercial maritime traffic safe passage.
Familiarity and reassurance
The folio of Maritime Security Charts (MSCs) are regularly scrutinised to ensure that they remain as in date as possible. The MSC format is consistent across the products which is now familiar to the maritime community. The information contained within the MSCs is validated before use to ensure continuity of content which in turn provides reassurance to the mariner.