The South African Navy is to establish to two Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) Centres. One centre will based at Silvermine in Cape Town to cover the west coast whilst the other will be located in Durban to cover the east coast.
They are being created as a direct result of the increased threat to shipping along the southern African coast by pirates.
Rear Admiral Bernhard Teuteberg, Chief Director Maritime Strategy, speaking to reporters at the State of the Navy presentation held at Simon’s Town, Cape Town last week, said that “the Somalian piracy threat is in fact, from week to week, moving into a southerly direction”.
Teuteberg said that the piracy threat was also moving towards India and had already affected the Seychelles to such an extent that their GDP has dropped by 30% due to the threat to their fishermen.
As a result, the Navy is proposing Maritime Zone and Regional MDA Centres, which would be linked to other SADC MDA Centres in order to exchange information. Numerous sources would be used to determine what was happening in these areas of interest, such as mobile shore radars, Automatic Identification System (AIS) fitted aboard all international voyaging ships, coastal radars, RadarSat, etc.
“We already have many sources that provide information generally available,” Teuteberg explained, “but it needs to be integrated properly within a maritime information system and that is what we are concluding at the moment”.
The MDA Centres will be operated under the flag of Chief Defence Intelligence, but in total cooperation with the SADC, which will be sending people to assist. Similar centres are already operating between Angola and Namibia and all centres will be able to share information.
The initiation of the South African centres to bring all the information together will commence on April 1 this year.