Oceans Beyond Piracy (OBP), United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC), EUCAP Nestor and the Somaliland Coast Guard have opened the Berbera Maritime Operations Centre to enhance maritime security off the Somali coast.
The centre operated by the Somaliland Coast Guard and part of the OBP Maritime Communications Initiative, will improve the quality and speed of communication, increasing the safety of Somaliland waters for local maritime traffic and will assist in combatting illegal fishing, piracy and other maritime crimes, Oceans Beyond Piracy said.
The opening of the centre, announced on 26 May and primarily funded by the Taipei Representative Office in the European Union and Belgium, was marked by a small ceremony attended by officials from OBP, Somaliland, the United Nations, and the European Union. To improve communication and visibility with traffic in Somali waters, the new centre features updated equipment and systems including VHF and HF radios and the internet-based SEA VISION maritime situational awareness system.
The centre is solar powered to maximize operating efficiency and reduce costs. Internet was provided by the Somaliland government to enable these capabilities and ensure the long term sustainability of the centre.
According to the Republic of China Representative to the EU and Belgium, Tung Kyo-yu, “The centres will collaborate with international naval forces and local authorities to increase the safety of seafarers operating in the region.”
EUCAP Nestor and OBP carried out initial training for the operations staff, on board the EU Naval Force vessel, FGS Erfurt. The staff was trained in maritime communications procedures and the basics of maritime situational awareness and information sharing. It is expected that a long-term partnership for coordinated training will continue to provide needed training and mentoring for the centre.
According to Ben Lawellin, the OBP Manager for the project, “The development of the centre was a team effort between a number of international actors, and we expect that this coordination will continue. We could not have done this without the help and prompt assistance from the Somaliland authorities.”
Work on the next Somali center is expected to begin in the coming months, Oceans Beyond Piracy said.