IMO installs anti-piracy surveillance system in Tanzania

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The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has completed the installation of a coastal surveillance system in the Tanzanian capital Dar es Salaam, which will lead to the installation of similar surveillance radar systems in five East African countries bordering the Mozambican channel.

The System will provide surveillance data to the Tanzanian military and civilian Dar es Salaam Maritime Rescue Sub-Centre and integral Information Sharing Centre. The scourge of piracy, which has been concentrated in waters off the Gulf of Aden and the coast of Somalia, has spread further south into the Mozambique Channel.

The Dar es Salaam surveillance system consists of a 12 foot Raytheon X-band radar system and was installed over the past 12 months by Foward Slope, an American naval defence security contractor based in California.

The radar base is the product of a partnership between the IMO and the US and Tanzanian governments. The idea for the installation of the radar system was conceived at the IMO Conference on Search and Rescue (SAR) and the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) held in 2000 in Florence, Italy. The project is being implemented in terms of the IMO’s Djibouti Code of Conduct and funded by France, Japan, Norway, the Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia and the Marshall Islands.

Noting the need for a regional approach to the provision of search and rescue operations in West, Southern and East Africa, the IMO resolved to install five Maritime Rescue Coordination Centres along the East African coast. The commissioning ceremony, which was held in Dar es Salaam, was attended by Tanzanian, US and Japanese government officials and Hartmut Hesse, the Special Representative of the Secretary General of the IMO Maritime Security and Anti-Piracy Programmes.

Hesse said the radar system will provide both civil maritime authorities and the Tanzanian People’s Defence Force (TPDF) with high resolution radar images and ship identification information.

Despite the availability of the new radar surveillance system and a drop in the number of piracy incidents, the IMO warned ship owners plying routes in the Indian Ocean to maintain tight security because the end of the monsoon rains has already led to a resurgence of pirate activity.

The IMO said undefended smaller vessels which are not often included in the International Maritime Bureau’s monitoring reports have become easy targets for pirates following the deployment of armed security personnel by the majority of shipping companies sailing off the Somali coast.

The commissioning of the Dar es Salaam radar surveillance system came as the Seychelles intensified its co-operation with the European Union Naval Force’s (EU Navfor’s) Operation Atlanta. The island country lies in the piracy High Risk Area and has taken a leading role in the prosecution and jailing of pirates.
“The fight against Somali piracy is not finished. Only a concrete improvement of the situation in Somalia could allow a return to normality. Operation Atlanta is part of the comprehensive approach of the European Union in Somalia and we will remain vigilant and committed. Seychelles plays an extremely important part in our operation and I am grateful for all the support we get,” said EU Navfor commander Rear Admiral Duncan Potts.

Seychelles president John Michel said his country is also grateful for the support given by the EU naval forces in the fight against piracy. The Seychelles plays host to the EU NAVFOR force’s Regional Anti-Piracy Prosecution and Intelligence Coordination Centre (RAPPICC).

Nearly 25% of the prison population of the Seychelles is believed to comprise of Somali pirates captured by the EU Naval Force and prosecuted by the Seychelles government.