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May 2011: Maritime Trade Operations

LT Wilson receives his course completion cert during RMPC 2011

Maritime Security –  the Commercial and Military domains come together

In late May I received an interesting phone call that went along the lines of;
“Do you hold a valid passport and are you able to take time off work to travel overseas for two weeks at short notice?”

My default reply is always yes and yes but it always pays to check with two other pillars of your personal make up – i.e work and CinC Homefront.

Receiving clearance from my employer, Port of Tauranga and the family I completed the additional ticks in the box so I confirmed my availability. Within two days my nomination had been received and I was advised I had been selected to attend the first Regional Maritime Practitioner’s Course (RMPC) to be held in Singapore and hosted by the Republic of Singapore Navy. The conference was centered around the Republic of Singapore Navy’s Information Fusion Centre.

Image Right: Lt Wilson receives his course completion certificate during RMPC 2011.

The Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) opened the Information Fusion Centre (IFC) in April 2009, NZ support this activity and have a permanent presence represented by our International Liaison Officer, Lt Cdr Stefan Hansen who has a Maritime Trade Operations background. The IFC is a purpose centre to build Maritime Domain Awareness ( MDA) in the South East Asian region to help strengthen maritime security through information sharing and fusion.

With Singapore strategically located at the centre of the South China Sea, the Singapore Straits and the Melacca Straits it is one of the largest transhipment hub ports in the world. Being in the hub of the strategically located maritime trade lanes, Singapore takes the security and maintaining these navigational lanes of transport, very seriously.

Its important to understand that the trade lanes are important to not only neighbouring Sovereign Nations but also “over the horizon stake holders” i.e foreign nations that move trade through this region. Central to protecting trade is the creation and maintenance of the Recognised Maritime Picture (RMP) for merchant shipping.

The IFC is tasked with the creation and maintenance of the RMP in this area and is at the centre of Singapore’s Whole of Government approach to information sharing and sense making of the maritime domain. Also attached to the IFC are the International Liaison Officers bring their own countries interests to the sense making and information sharing processes.

The RMPC was aimed at staff that are involved in Maritime Domain Awareness of the merchant fleet and provided capability building through the deeper understanding of security threats and knowledge sharing. It was well served by a number of experts in field with both naval officers and tertiary institutions who specialise in maritime security and strategic studies presenting lectures.

The course was also attended by stakeholders outside of the armed forces, but also interested in mercantile maritime security. We conducted visits to various merchant shipping companies that have interests in not only the Singapore Region, but also the Somali Basin and Gulf of Aden, to gain a greater understanding of their concerns and modus operandi. Key stakeholder visits also included those agencies who support Singapore’s Whole of Government approach to maritime security, the course also provided a valuable opportunity to built networks with colleagues from other nations who are involved in Maritime Domain Awareness.

It was a privilege to be one of the two RNZN Officers who attended the course which was very well run, I received a deeper understanding of regional concerns and threats to the maritime domain bring me up to speed with a number of the issues that my colleague and co student Lt Cdr Stefan Hansen had already become acquainted with in his role as the NZILO at the IFC.

Returning home I look forward to using and sharing the knowledge learned by my attendance at the RMPC 2011.

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