Djiboutian navy and the European Union Naval Force (EU Navfor) French frigate Guépratte are participating in the joint surveillance operation “7 Brothers” off the Horn of Africa.
The two-day operation kicked off yesterday and is named after the Islands of Seven Brothers in the Bab El Mandeb strait that connects the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden.
With a new operational centre and a network of semaphores, the Djiboutian navy will patrol for two days with the support of the frigate Guépratte, in an area where more than 20 000 merchant ships pass each year. The Djiboutian navy now has the tools necessary to increase their effectiveness in maritime surveillance in the southern Red Sea and the western Gulf of Aden, which is so important for international trade, the EU Navfor said.
The area north and northeast of the Somali coast is an important shipping route for oil. The Hormuz Strait in the Gulf of Oman carries around a third of all seaborne traded oil, or 17% of oil traded around the world, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). Every day around 17 million barrels of oil is transported through the strait, with roughly 13 oil tankers passing through the strait a day.
The nearby Gulf of Aden, on route to the Suez Canal, sees up to 30 000 ships passing through its waters every year. The Suez Canal itself is one of the seven shipping choke points identified by the EIA, which says that such channels are critically important to the world oil trade and are also susceptible to blockages and pirate attacks. Roughly 8% of the world’s seaborne trade passes through the Suez Canal and of the cargo taken through the canal, 15% is oil and related products.
On June 27 Djibouti opened a new Naval Operations Centre to improve the ability of Djiboutian maritime forces to track ship movements in their territorial waters and aid in the fight against piracy. The USA and France provided support to Djibouti for the building and fitting of the operations centre.
Djiboutian Navy and Coast Guard personnel have been receiving training from US and European naval forces in an effort to strengthen Djibouti’s naval forces and enhance cooperation with foreign navies in the region. Some of this training has been in preparation for the Operations Centre. Earlier this year Djiboutian Navy sailors were briefed on Mercury, an Internet-based secured network used as an alert and coordination by all the anti-piracy stakeholders, civilian and military.
The EU Navfor earlier said that training help navies and coast guards in the region to further develop their own maritime capabilities, while allowing EU Navfor ships to take advantage of their experience and knowledge of the area. This also facilitates subsequent contacts during any counter-piracy operation during which collaboration may be necessary.
“The 7 Brothers operation carried out jointly by Djiboutian navy and the French frigate Guépratte is one example of EU Navfor’s efforts to cooperate and train with regional maritime forces. Such cooperation regularly conducted by EU Navfor is complementing the EU’s Comprehensive Approach and the support to regional maritime capacity building in the Horn of Africa states,” the EU Navfor said.