This research paper is a product of the research collaboration between the National Maritime Foundation, New Delhi and the Maritime Policy and Strategy Research Center, Haifa University (HMS), Israel, with the aim of providing policy recommendations to the respective governments of India and Israel. The article was first published on the HMS website in December 2020.


With reducing resources on land, the oceans have become the next ‘pit stop’ for humans for fulfilling their needs. Today, the oceans and the seas around us are bristling with activities. These activities range from trade, fishing, offshore gas, offshore wind farms, exploration activities for deep seabed mining, marine scientific research, offshore solar farms, submarine cable lying, and many more activities both benign and offensive. For all these activities to be possible, there exists a need for knowing and mapping of the ocean surface and the ocean floor so that the planned activity at sea can be executed in a manner and to the extent that it is successful and does not cause harm to either humans or equipment. Such knowledge of the Maritime Domain that allows the execution of an activity at sea with ease and finesse may be called as Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) and is necessarily not limited to the security construct alone.

Since the oceans cover more than 70 per cent of the Earth’s surface and is ever so dynamic, MDA cannot be achieved by one single entity of a nation or a person. Though nations and organisations have tried it alone, they have realised that a cooperative mechanism provides a better, more accurate and more expansive MDA. It is with this understanding that this monograph aims to explicate the interlinking of existing systems and the potential interoperability opportunities in the MDA infrastructure prevalent in the Indo-Pacific and the Eastern Mediterranean region from a maritime security perspective that are providing the necessary inputs for a better decision making.

1.       Introduction

Nations around the world have been and continue to be both ravaged and protected by the oceans and seas from traditional (military) and non-traditional (non-military) threats.[1] Hence, the securing of the seas is an essentiality and not a mutually exclusive condition for securing the interests of most nations. Though the theoretical perspective to security can be bifurcated; based on the approaches to address traditional and non-traditional threats, the maritime security is considered to have been culled out as a relationship between the traditional (already established) and non-traditional concepts such as marine safety, blue economy and resilience. This thus prominently requires focus on non-traditional threats such as, piracy and maritime terrorism, arms trafficking, drug smuggling, Irregular Human Migration (IHM), Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing, marine pollution, and natural disasters to name a few as seen in Fig. 1.

This threat scenario essentially requires that countries susceptible to such threats need to be situationally aware of the maritime domain that is likely to initiate such a threat upon them. Since these threats are essentially transnational in their attributes, they require multinational response strategies. This in return requires comprehensive maritime cooperation within the stakeholders so as to be able to be prepared to face these threats and challenges. A broad working of and the elements of a successful MDA are as seen in Fig. 2.

Such cooperation is possible only if there is an effective information sharing arrangement between the countries of the Indo-Pacific Region and the Eastern Mediterranean region. It is essential to emphasise that maritime security is ‘not’ limited to military security alone but can be defined as freedom from threats arising from ‘above’ or from ‘under’ the sea. These threats could arise from natural causes, man-made causes, or from the interplay of one with the other, as is in the case of global warming and environmental degradation.[2]

maritime security matrix Elements of MDA
Figure 1: Maritime Security Matrix Figure 2: Elements of MDA

2.  Maritime Domain Awareness – Definition and Historical Background

Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA), as a phrase, was first used in the early years of the twenty first century as a part of the new maritime thinking in the U.S. when security became an area of prime concern.[3] The inception of the term ‘MDA’ can be traced back to the attacks on the World Trade Centre in 09 September 2001.[4] The traumatic events of this attack on the American territory drove the Bush administration to address the threats from the maritime domain, since its concern was, among other things, that the next terror attack could be perpetuated from the maritime domain. The maritime domain was identified as exposed and vulnerable, with limited control and a broad freedom to operate for hostile elements.[5] In defining the maritime domain as ‘important’ and ‘vulnerable’, the need for defining operational tools that would enable the country to be aware of and vigilant towards any relevant event to its national security evolved. Hence, the concept of Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) was considered essential. More specifically, the U.S. has defined MDA as “…the effective understanding of anything associated with the global Maritime Domain that could impact the security, safety, economy, or environment of the United States.”[6] This definition called for the ability “to facilitate timely, accurate decision making that enables actions to neutralize threats…”[7]

Subsequently, the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002[8], the National Security Presidential Directive-41 and the Homeland Security Presidential Directive-13 (NSPD-41/HSPD-13) of 2005[9] led to the first National Plan for Maritime Domain Awareness in 2005. Six overall goals for the achievement of security in the maritime domain were defined:[10]

  • Preventing terrorist attacks or criminal acts or hostile acts in, or the unlawful exploitation of, the Maritime Domain, and reducing the vulnerability of the Maritime Domain to such acts and exploitation;
  • Enhancing U.S. national security and homeland security by protecting U.S. population centres, critical infrastructure, borders, harbours, ports, and coastal approaches in the Maritime Domain;
  • Expediting recovery and response from attacks within the Maritime Domain;
  • Maximizing awareness of security issues in the Maritime Domain in order to support U.S. forces and improve U.S. Government actions in response to identified threats;
  • Enhancing international relationships and promoting the integration of U.S. allies and international and private sector partners into an improved global maritime security framework to advance common security interests in the Maritime Domain; and
  • Ensuring seamless, coordinated implementation of authorities and responsibilities relating to the security of the Maritime Domain by and among Federal departments and agencies.

This concept of MDA was adopted by the international community and was subsequently embedded in the international discourse within a few years. Most significantly, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) acknowledged the phrase in 2010 by making amendments to the International Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue (IAMSAR) manual[11] by defining MDA as, the effective understanding of any activity associated with the maritime environment that could impact upon the security, safety, economy or environment.[12]

Security needs, notwithstanding, limiting MDA to only the security construct may not be appropriate. With reducing resources on land compounded by an ever increasing population that is forcing humanity to move into the oceans for fulfilling their needs, and nations focusing on ‘Blue Economy’, the need to know and understand the oceans to achieve sustainable exploitation becomes imperative. Such an understanding is possible only by achieving mapping of the ocean surface and the ocean floor, hence MDA, so as to undertake activities that range from trade, fishing, exploration and exploitation of offshore gas, offshore wind farms, exploration activities for deep seabed mining, marine scientific research, offshore solar farms, submarine cable lying, and many more activities both benign and offensive.[13]

As more nations delve into the oceans they realise the gravitas to make well-informed maritime engagements in order to protect their maritime interests. However, as explained by Jonathan Colby, maritime engagements are possible only after intelligence gathering and awareness.[14] It is with this understanding that countries have been collaborating with each other to gather and share intelligence and awareness of their maritime region, primarily from a security point of view. The tripartite maritime security arrangement between India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, signed in 2013, is one such example, and can be considered as a quintessential framework for MDA within the Indo-Pacific Region.[15] This arrangement has been established for the purpose of joint cooperation in EEZ surveillance, Maritime Search and Rescue (SAR)[16], anti-piracy efforts and sharing of white shipping information since the maritime challenges experienced by these countries are similar if not identical.

Since the expanse of the seas is large and dynamic, over which information gathering cannot be achieved alone by the efforts of a single actor, a cooperative mechanism provides a better, more accurate and more expansive MDA. This monograph volume offers a unique look at the issue of Maritime Domain Awareness from two very different perspectives: Indian and Israeli. Despite the profound differences in size, scope and complexities of the two nations, the two perspectives emphasise the common denominator in dealing with the Maritime Domain Awareness issue from a security perspective – its centrality to coastline countries as well as the main questions that must be dealt with regarding the path to be taken to execute a meaningful Maritime Domain Awareness policy. With this understanding, the monograph aims to explicate the interlinking of existing systems and the potential interoperability opportunities in the MDA infrastructure prevalent in the Indo-Pacific and Eastern Mediterranean Regions from a security perspective. In doing so, it will bring out how such existing systems and their interoperability is providing the necessary inputs for a better decision making. The monograph has so far given a brief overview of the concept of Maritime Domain Awareness. It now moves to reviewing the major trends and developments in the regional maritime domain of the Indo-Pacific and the Eastern Mediterranean Region and the status of the efforts of India and Israel in this field. This will be followed by a discussion of the unanswered u questions that plague the availability of a complete MDA picture followed by some thoughts on the road ahead for each of the two countries with specific reference to possible India-Israel collaboration.


3.  Getting an MDA picture

MDA consists of two key components: information and intelligence. It is all about collating information along with actionable intelligence in the form of a comprehensive common operating picture (COP) to create a substantive, layered presentation of the maritime environment that can help increase the range of options available and hence a more informed decision making. Numerous governmental and military organizations already possess a COP of some sort or another; however, no one source captures all of the maritime information needed. Once a consolidated COP is available, priorities of resource allocation can be decided in a much more informed manner. From a security point of view, those most critical would be addressed first.

In order to generate this actionable intelligence, it is imperative that the tools so used must be both timeless and scenario-independent. The functional capabilities of the tools used must include focused sensing and data acquisition (provide information on area of interest), dynamic interoperable connectivity (must be dynamic to address changing threats and scenario), responsive information management (information availability on demand, de facto provided or pushed when essential), information assurance (to insure that the information has not been tampered-with by a third party), consistent representation (providing same accurate and timely information to all users making decision making simpler), distributed collaboration (to provide transparent interactions between users), and dynamic decision support (provide status of both friendly and enemy sensors, systems, platforms and weapons in real-time).[17] Accordingly, these seven functional imperatives are considered essential to achieve this dominance.

Sensing the environment to gain situational awareness involves gathering data about the physical world through electromagnetic, acoustic, seismic, optic, and other measurement means. This can be accomplished with platform-borne sensors or with off-board assets from unattended sensors, unmanned systems, satellites, and intelligence sources through focused sensing. Focused sensing implies concentration on things of interest and on the area of interest while avoiding gathering of an overwhelming amount of data. Such focused sensing eventually requires technology with data-sensing capabilities.

Figure 3: Technologies used to gather an MDA (Source: Douglas (2013)

Figure 3: Technologies used to gather an MDA (Source: Douglas (2013)[18])

In order to achieve the desired COP, both existing capabilities and new technologies are used. For example, ‘Automatic Identification System’ (AIS), which is analogous to Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) transponders fitted aboard commercial airliners, carried by large commercial vessels for collision avoidance and harbour traffic control.[19] Sensing systems such as long-range, over the horizon radars; high-altitude, long-dwell unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV); lighter-than-air craft; oceanic surveillance buoys; and acoustic systems are also used for this purpose in the open ocean environment[20] as seen in Fig. 3. Technologies such as space based (satellite) AIS allow to fuse AIS data with optical and radar imagery and other data sources. Such fused data, along with information from other sensors and open source intelligence helps track compliant ships and “dark” ships.[21]


4.       Defining the Regions

In order to ensure clarity and consistency, it is considered essential that the ‘Indo-Pacific’ and the ‘Eastern Mediterranean’ as regions are defined before we delve into the issue related to the Maritime Domain Awareness for these areas. In doing so, we will try and explain the linkages between these two areas and how they can be considered as one Region.

4.1.  The Indo-Pacific Region

The definition of the Indo-Pacific as a region has been an area of discussion for many years now with various economic blocks/ authorities referring to different regions that make up this region. While the U.S. refers to the region as the Indo-Pacific, China prefers to call it the Asia-Pacific. The generally accepted Indo-Pacific Region is a stretch of oceanic space that links the Indian and Pacific Oceans, which encompasses the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal, Strait of Malacca, South China Sea, Philippine Sea and Western Pacific as seen in Fig. 4. This region is the epicentre of global economy in terms of availability of natural resources, trade flow and transportation of energy over the Western and the Eastern SLOCS to the West, East Asia and South Asia. It is home to nearly 60 per cent of the world’s population[22] and nations in this region experience more natural disasters than any other region. Between 2014 and 2017, nations were affected by 55 earthquakes, 217 storms and cyclones, and 236 cases of severe flooding, impacting 650 million people and causing the deaths of 33,000 people.[23] In the words of Admiral D.K. Joshi this region signifies the fusion of two geopolitically sensitive and economically vibrant regions, the shores of which are washed by the Indian and the Pacific Oceans.[24]

Figure 4: The Indo-Pacific Region Source: wikimedia.org

Figure 4: The Indo-Pacific Region Source: wikimedia.org

The term was first used by Gurpreet Khurana[25] in 2007 where he defined the Indo-Pacific to refer to the maritime space stretching from the littorals of East Africa and West Asia, across the Indian Ocean and Western Pacific Ocean, to the littorals of East Asia. The Indian apex political leadership[26] began using the term in 2010 while the strategic analysts and leadership of Australia, Japan and the U.S. used it only in 2011, with the first documented articulation by Australia in the 2013.[27] The term Indo-Pacific acquired prominence in 2010 because of India’s growing economic and security engagement with Southeast Asia, west and east of the Malacca Strait, India’s deepening security arrangements with other democracies like Australia, Japan and the U.S. and the growing Chinese maritime appearance in the Eastern Indian Ocean, the South China Sea and the Western Pacific. Off late, Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his speech at the 2018 Shangri La Dialogue (Singapore) outlined India’s vision for the Indo-Pacific, and defined the Indo-Pacific Region as that extending from the shores of Africa to that of the Americas.[28]

The region involves the intersecting interests of at least four major powers — China, India, Japan, and the United States — as well as significant middle players such as Australia, South Korea, and the Southeast Asian countries. While the U.S. seeks to maintain a status quo in the world order and international system, China is trying to assert recognition as a major power and strives to carve out its own sphere of influence. Russia, Japan, South Korea, India and the ASEAN countries are all playing an important role in balancing power in this region.

4.2.  The Eastern Mediterranean Region

Figure 5: The Eastern Mediterranean Region https://israelbehindthenews.com/israels-challenges-eastern-mediterranean/11934/

Figure 5: The Eastern Mediterranean Region

The Eastern Mediterranean region includes the littoral waters of Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Gaza, Egypt and Libya as well as the international waters between these countries. For a long time, this region has been significant strategically and economically. Accordingly, foreign powers have gone to a great effort in controlling it. Strategically situated on the route from the East to Europe (through the Suez Canal), all relevant actors try to hold stakes in the region. It is a highly contested region with regional rivalries (e.g. Greece and Turkey; Israel-Lebanon) and the great powers trying to offset the balance of power in their favour. In this context, the US holds the 6th Fleet in the region, Russia is investing in its naval base in Syria, and China is promoting its BRI with maritime related infrastructure projects nearly in all the countries of this region. Accordingly, both the European powers as well as Israel hold vital interests in the maritime domain of this region. Following the gas finds in the region, the importance of this region has grown, as will be elaborated in the discussions to follow. Understandingly, intertwined with the strategic and the economic importance lies the political significance of the region[29] and hence the need to form a clear maritime domain picture.

4.3.  Their Linkages

Broadly speaking, all oceans are connected to each other in some form or the other. However, for these two maritime regions, under discussion, the common denominator is Israel. Israel as a State has a major stake in the East Mediterranean as the water of the East Mediterranean washes the shores of Israel. Similarly, Israel finds itself connected to the Indo-Pacific region through the Red Sea where it has its maritime port of Eilat. This essentially means that though Israel may consider Eastern Mediterranean to be the area where it needs to concentrate on its MDA, it cannot afford to overlook activities occurring in the Indo-Pacific region as they too have an indirect bearing, if not direct, on Israel through the Port of Eilat.


5.       MDA in these Two Regions

As discussed, since these two maritime regions have their own concerns, over the time, they have developed their own mechanisms of MDA. To understand the existing mechanisms, it is considered essential that we look at the existing MDA structures in these two areas separately.

5.1.  MDA in the Indo-Pacific Region

Like any other maritime space, the Indo-Pacific region too faces numerous maritime security-related issues that involve identifying and countering behaviour ranging from trafficking of people, drugs, small arms and other illicit goods; illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing; safety of ferries and inter-island shipping; protecting marine ecosystems and resources that are vital to food security, human health and economic well-being; and other environmental crimes. This essentially means that it is crucial to share information on marine incidents, oil spill responses, management and conservation of fisheries resources, marine pollution and coastal management. This nature of information sharing, fusion and joint analysis allow countries to react faster to incidents and set regional priorities.

Unfortunately, many coastal states of this Region have low capacities to achieve MDA. They often have few law enforcement vessels capable of patrolling their exclusive economic zones (EEZs) and lack effective navies, coast guards, or air force resources capable of ensuring maritime rule of law. Since the area of concern comprises of 38 countries that share 44 per cent of world surface area and 65 per cent of world population, and account for 62 per cent of world GDP and 46 per cent of the world’s merchandise trade, many extra-regional powers have spent their resources and manpower to develop and operationalize various maritime domain information collection and dissemination setups to strengthen maritime cooperation with countries of this region. These setups include:

  • Maritime Security Centre – Horn of Africa (MSCHOA)
  • Indian Ocean Regional Information Sharing platform (IORIS)
  • MASE (Maritime security programme) for the ESA-IO region
  • Information Fusion Centre – Singapore
  • Information Fusion Centre – Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR)
  • Agencies addressing piracy

5.1.1.    Maritime Security Centre – Horn of Africa (MSCHOA)

MSCHOA, run by the EU Naval Force (EUNAVFOR), helps protect merchant shipping in the region by providing information that assists in preventing pirate attacks and disrupting the activities of pirate groups.[30] MSCHOA aims to provide service to mariners in the Gulf of Aden, the Somali Basin and off the Horn of Africa. This service involves protection to shipping from the threat of pirate attacks by guiding them away from the piracy hot spots and providing anti-piracy charts and an anti-piracy briefing package for masters. To provide this service, MSCHOA needs vessels to register to know what vessels are operating in the piracy hot spots. The services provided include:

  • The piracy chart, which is a map of the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea and shows the Gulf of Aden’s internationally recommended transit corridor (IRTC), with advice for vessels on how they should safely join it, an overview of Best Management Practices (BMPs) and what to do in case pirates are spotted. The advice on the chart is listed under headings, including ‘Identified suspect vessels in vicinity’, ‘Attack in progress’, ‘Pirates on board’ and ‘Vessel hijacked’.
  • The masters’ briefing package, which is given to vessels with a speed of less than 15 knots and a freeboard of less than seven metres, which are perceived to be more vulnerable, consists of a checklist booklet; a DVD on BMPs and a folder entitled “How to survive a piracy attack”.

5.1.2.    Indian Ocean Regional Information Sharing platform (IORIS)

Initiated by the EU CRIMARIO project, IORIS is a new secure information sharing and incident management tool. It was launched on 4 Sep 2018 to enable member nations to create a collaborative working environment to improve the understanding of the maritime domain and coordinate operations when incidents occur at sea. It uses the cooperative approach developed by the EU to address piracy and the new maritime security challenges faced by the Indian Ocean littoral states such as drugs and arms trafficking, illegal fishing, environmental damages, etc. Future developmental phases of IORIS will be supported by EU CRIMARIO project which includes running costs (hosting, maintenance and support) until March 2020.[31]

5.1.3.    MASE (Maritime security programme) for the ESA-IO region

Initiated by MASE (Maritime security programme, EU-funded), and implemented by IOC (Indian Ocean Commission), two regional centres have been set up to promote maritime situational awareness of the coastal countries of ESA-IO (Eastern and Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean). These are:

  • RMIFC (Regional Maritime Information Fusion Centre) based in Madagascar: The RMIFC was initiated by the Malagasy authorities in 2013 in collaboration with MASE and was confirmed by the Djibouti Declaration on Maritime Security and Safety on May 15, 2016. However, the five states of ESA-IO (Djibouti, Madagascar, Mauritius, Union of Comoros and Seychelles) signed the Regional Agreement for the setting up of RMIFC only on April 29th, 2018 when it became operational. Several steps have been taken by RMIFC since this start. These include staff training, expansion of information exchange network, setting up of the communication tools (Website, Twitter and Facebook) and the production of basic deliverables (daily brief, ESA-IO Ports Maritime Traffic Status, Press summary, Recognized Maritime Picture, weekly, monthly and annual report on Maritime Security and Safety in the ESA-IO Region).[32]
  • RCOC (Regional Centre for Operational Coordination) based in Seychelles: The RCOC is a regional centre for operational coordination alongside the RMIFC. The RCOC organizes the operational response to maritime crimes in the western Indian Ocean along with its nine members: Comoros, Djibouti, France/ Réunion, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, the Seychelles, Somalia, and Tanzania. [33]
  • The NISCC (National Information Sharing and Coordination Centre), is a national entity, based at Seychelles with a mission to co-coordinate and manage the ever increasing level of activities within the maritime sector, coordinating oil spills and responses to coastal maritime crime. The NISCC will act as a first point of contact and as the centre of maritime security operations for key national stakeholders.[34]

5.1.4.    Information Fusion Centre – Singapore

The Information Fusion Centre (IFC) was established on 27 April 2009 at Singapore. It is a 24/7 Regional Maritime Security (MARSEC) information-sharing centre. It aims to facilitate information-sharing and collaboration between partners to ensure safety and security at sea. Through integrated team of International Liaison Officers and the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) personnel, the IFC delivers information to regional partners to cue timely operational responses by regional and international navies, coast guards and other maritime agencies to deal with the full range of MARSEC threats and incidents. This includes piracy, sea robbery, maritime terrorism, contraband smuggling, illegal fishing and irregular human migration.

As on 6 May 2019, 155 International Liaison Officers (ILOs) from 24 countries have been deployed to the IFC, and 19 ILOs from 18 countries currently serve alongside 12 RSN personnel. The IFC has 97 linkages from 41 countries, and is one of the four Technical Leading Navies of the Trans-Regional Maritime Network, which brings together the IFC’s Open and Analysed Shipping Information System to enhance global maritime information-sharing and cooperation.[35]

5.1.5.    Information Fusion Centre – Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR)

In order to provide a greater reach to the COP generated by the IMAC with stakeholders of various nations of the region, the IFC-IOR has been established at the IMAC. The IFC-IOR is to be a single point centre linking the coastal radar chains as and when installed in other countries and the existing white shipping information exchange (with 36 countries[36] at the time of writing the article) with various countries of the Region to generate a seamless real-time picture. Such countries can position International liaison officers (ILOs) at this centre. The IFC-IOR is to be a separate platform and it is expected that all members of the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) will be part of it.

5.1.6.    Other agencies addressing piracy in the Region

Some successful regional constructs to address piracy that provide an effective platform for joint counter-piracy exercises are:

  • ReCAAP[37] has fostered mutual trust and promotes information sharing between 20 countries in the Asia-Pacific, Europe, and North America.
  • The Djibouti Code of Conduct[38] that was adopted on 29 January 2009 by various African states.
  • EUCAP Nestor launched by the EU that was adopted in July 2012 for a civilian maritime capacity building in Djibouti, Seychelles, Somalia, and Tanzania.
  • The Yaoundé Code of Conduct that was adopted by West and Central Africa on 25 June 2013.
  • Based on the successful Malacca Strait Patrols (MSP), the Sulu Sea Patrol Initiative (SSPI) was established on 14 Jul 2016.[39]
  • The Shared Awareness and Deconfliction (SHADE) umbrella has been effective in curbing piracy in the Gulf of Aden.

5.2.  MDA in the Eastern Mediterranean

Maritime security has become an area of growing interest in the Eastern Mediterranean with the recent gas finds; disagreements over maritime boundaries; large-scale violence; political instability; mass migration via sea routes; and environmental hazards. These are compounded by the lack of shared values, culture and norms; protracted conflicts in the region, such as those among Turks, Greeks and Cypriots, and between Israelis and Palestinians; and the absence of effective sovereignty in parts of the region such as Libya, Syria, the Gaza Strip and parts of the Sinai Peninsula. These all have necessitated a need for a greater Maritime Domain Awareness in this region.

Today, the region has Egypt, Turkey, and Iran as existing regional naval powers, and Russia and the United States as extra-regional naval powers with Israel increasing its maritime focus to evolve as another maritime power in this region.

The War in Syria as well as the instability in Syria, Iraq and Libya bears maritime implications. The war in Syria has brought about the Russian maritime presence, and the resulting instability has brought a flux of refugees that try to reach European shores for asylum. The diminishing interest of the US in the region is offering opportunity to Russia as well as China to increase their presence in the region.[40] This is permitting Russia to increase its maritime presence in the Mediterranean by positioning vessels in various countries of the region, including increased number of military vessels that are entering the ports of Spain, Greece and Malta, as well as a docking agreement with Cyprus signed in 2015.[41]


6.       MDA in India and Israel

Since India and Israel are two independent countries, they have their own maritime security challenges. Even though they are geographically separated and their challenges are unique, the broad issues related to maritime security remain the same and hence there exist many commonalities wherein the two countries can work together. In order to understand these similarities, it is essential that the security MDA being practiced by the two countries is discussed before the collaborative mechanism can be discussed.

6.1.  India

6.1.1.    MDA

As discussed, MDA is an all-encompassing term. It involves being aware of the location and intentions of both friends and foes, in the dimension and area of interest of a highly dynamic and evolving maritime environment. Such an MDA enables an early identification of potential threats, a more informed decision-making and suitable allocation of resources. Due to a dynamic maritime environment MDA is never absolute. It requires a continuous effort to acquire and to analyse information. The feed for this effort is provided from Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance (ISR) and information sharing. The MDA picture is known to change with advances in technology of platforms, sensors and weapons, increased density in the maritime environment, trade flow patterns and interactions between nations and regions.

Like any other maritime nation, an MDA picture is essential for a country like India. However, even though the data was being collected by various agencies, not a single consolidated MDA picture was being developed for security assessment. The attacks on Mumbai from sea on the 26th November 2008 exposed three critical gaps in Indian maritime security namely: porous water front of Indian coastline, lack of inter-agency coordination and poor surveillance of maritime domain hence an urgent need of a consolidated MDA picture[42]. In August 2009, as a result of these attacks, the National Committee on Strengthening Maritime and Coastal Security against threats from the sea (NCSMCS) was constituted with the cabinet secretary as its Chairman. However, with 15 or more agencies involved, ranging from the Indian Navy, the Indian Coast Guard, customs, intelligence agencies and port authorities to the home and shipping ministries, state governments and fisheries departments, the task was daunting and the NCSMCS alone was found to be ineffective. In order to remove the large number of variables and be able to achieve a “common operational picture” of activities at sea through an institutionalised mechanism for collecting, fusing and analysing information from technical and other sources like coastal surveillance network radars, space-based automatic identification systems, vessel traffic management systems, fishing vessel registration and fishermen biometric identity databases,[43] the Modi government in 2014 established the National Maritime Domain Awareness (NMDA) grid by instituting a number of organisational, operational and technological changes.

Since identification systems have been a critical common requirement for Maritime Security,[44] India decided to set up such identification systems along the coastlines for better surveillance under the NMDA project. This project aims to detect and tackle threats emanating from the sea in real-time and to generate a holistic picture based on the information received from various simultaneous and dedicated layers. These layers include: the Vessel Traffic Management System (VTMS) and Vessel and Air Traffic Management System (VATMS); the National AIS (NAIS) Network; the Merchant Shipping Information System (MSIS); the Coastal Surveillance Network (CSN); and the National Command Control Communication and Intelligence Network (NC3IN). Of these, the NC3IN system, presently with the Indian Navy and the Indian Coast Guard, will be progressively extended to other stakeholders such as the fishing and merchant vessels for improving the overall MDA and will help in the coordination between the maritime agencies, coastal states and union territories by linking them. To appreciate the working of this layered information system, let us look at each of these resources independently.

  • Vessel Traffic Management System (VTMS) is present with the commercial ports for monitoring the maritime traffic in the port. The surveillance information from the port radars, Automatic Identification System (AIS), Direction Finding (DF) system, CCTV, VHF communications and other systems provide the feed to the VTMS and a local maritime picture of the ports to NC3IN.
  • Vessel and Air Traffic Management System (VATMS) – West: Present with the Offshore Development Area (ODA) on the Western Coast of India since 2007. It is a sophisticated surveillance system that assists in Search and Rescue (SAR) operations[45] and tracks any drifting or intruding vessel in all weather conditions. It can facilitate voice communication with vessels in its range and collect and share metrological formation in its surveillance zone. The VATMS provides a round the clock monitoring of the waters of the Arabian Sea with real-time data.[46] The feed from this system to the NC3IN provides a maritime picture of the Offshore Development Areas.
  • National Automatic Identification System Network (NAIS): The Directorate General of Lighthouses and Lightships (DGLL) has developed and installed in August 2012 a NAIS network in coordination with the Indian Navy and the Indian Coast Guard. 74 shore stations on existing lighthouses along the Indian coast, six regional control centres, two coastal control centres and one national data centre at Mumbai have been set to help Marine Navigation and tracking of SOLAS compliant vessels and those carrying transponders as per DG Shipping Notices so as to have an overall image of AIS complying vessels along the Indian coastline. The new proprietary system developed for smaller (sub-20 m), non-AIS vessels would be compatible with this network. The feed is provided to Naval Headquarters, Coast Guard Headquarters and the NC3IN.[47]
  • Coastal Surveillance Network (CSN): CSN that was mooted almost two decades ago found approval only after the 26/11 attacks. The Indian Coast Guard as part of CCS directive of 2009 developed the Coastal Surveillance Network (CSN) all along the coast on the main land and along the Lakshadweep group of islands and along the Andaman and Nicobar Group of Islands. The project consisting of chain of static sensors having radars, Automatic Identification System (AIS), day/night cameras and Met sensors has two phases. Of this, 36 radar stations on the mainland, six in Lakshadweep and Minicoy and four in Andaman and Nicobar have been operationalized. The second phase, approved by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) in 2017, will involve setting up 38 more radar stations with static radars and electro-optic sensors, four mobile surveillance stations and integration of VTMS sites in the Gulf of Kutch and Khambat.[48] The feed from this is shared with the NC3IN.
  • Merchant Shipping Information System (MSIS): The MSIS is a MDA system that provides the maritime traffic movement and is developed to correlate, fuse and disseminate the data obtained from the National AIS (NAIS) Network and other sources of Automatic Identification System (AIS), including open-source information on ‘white shipping’. The resultant feed is made available on the nodal Information Management and Analysis Centre (IMAC).
  • National Command Control Communication and Intelligence Network (NC3IN): The Indian Navy has established the NC3IN as the backbone of the ‘National Maritime Domain Awareness’ (NMDA) Project[49] by linking 51 stations, including 20 of the Navy and 31 of the Coast Guard and the Joint Operation Centres (JOCs), with a nodal Information Management and Analysis Centre (IMAC). The network rides on dedicated terrestrial data circuits, as well as, satellite communication, which helps the stations in remote locations to be networked and can track 30,000 to 40,000 merchant ships transiting through the Indian Ocean. Other than the above mentioned sources, real-time information is fed from Long-Range Identification and Tracking (LRIT), space based AIS and other open sources to develop a correlated picture of maritime traffic.
  • Information Management and Analysis Centre (IMAC): The IMAC is the nodal centre of the National Command Control Communications and Intelligence Network (NC3I Network), and is a joint initiative of the Indian Navy and the Indian Coast Guard with Bharat Electronics Ltd as the service provider that functions under the National Security Adviser (NSA) to improve coastal surveillance. At the IMAC, all the information being received from the various sources (stations, centres, etc.) on NC3IN is connected through a high-speed computer network through the Coastal Surveillance and Decision Support (CSDS) software. The data from various sensors and databases is aggregated, correlated and then disseminated to various stations for enhanced awareness. The software on which the coastal surveillance will be carried out incorporates hi-tech features like data fusion, correlation and decision support features thus facilitating better decision making.[50] The information so collated is analysed and disseminated in the form of a Common Operational Picture (COP) so that the decision makers at all levels are able to anticipate potential threats and respond appropriately.

Figure 6: Stations linked onto the National Command Control Communication and Intelligence Network (NC3IN) and IMAC (Source: Modified from Chawla (2016)[51])

Figure 6: Stations linked onto the National Command Control Communication and Intelligence Network (NC3IN) and IMAC (Source: Modified from Chawla (2016)[51])

6.1.2.    Shortfalls

It is not that the system in use by India is fool-proof and covers the entire gambit of the maritime domain to provide a perfect COP. There are some major shortfalls in the existing system of which some of them are:

  • VATMS-East: The East coast of India does not have a VATMS. This thus does not provide a picture of the ODA of the East coast, thereby hampering a complete MDA for this region. Since the existing oil and gas installations on the Eastern coast of India are few in numbers that spread across Pondicherry offshore, KG offshore and Mahanadi basin, no major installations of ONGC are in operation on the East coast and the existing installations are the CRP (Control and Riser Platform) of Reliance, a cluster of unmanned platforms of Cairn Energy at Rawa field and Floating Point Units (FPU) and tankers of Hardy Oil at Cauvery basin, there is no lead partner for installation of the VATMS. However, since some more structures are planned in the future[52] the VATMS-East becomes critical.
  • Integration of feed: While the feed to the current NMDA setup has been integrated with CSN (ICG), NAIS (DGLL), LRIT (DG Shipping), VATMS(W) (ONGC), and space-based AIS (ISRO), that with others such as fishing vessel bio-ID database (MoA), Fishing Vessel Registration Database (MoA), Fishing Vessel Tracking System (MHA), Port Community System (MoS), MSIS (IN), MAC/SMAC database of IB, VATMS (E) (ONGC), VTMS of Major Ports (MoS), ship security alert system (DG Shipping), VTMS of Gulf of Kutch (DGLL) and VTMS of Gulf of Khambat (GMB) still needs to be achieved.[53]

6.1.3.    India’s efforts towards MDA in the IOR

The emerging MDA structures that exist in the Indo-Pacific Region need to be strengthened and the agreements or initiatives need to be operationalized to its full potential for effective surveillance. Enhancing the MDA will ensure maritime security and good order in the region. This can be pursued through a mutually inclusive approach, addressed at the conceptual level (say SAGAR), the political level (say IORA and EAS) and the operational level (say IONS and WPNS). Such interventions can be made effective through the mechanisms of policy, monitoring and coordination within the MDA framework.

In order to cement a stronger understanding and cooperation amongst friendly nations in the region, India has been engaging with its littoral neighbours. India’s Maritime Security Strategy of 2015 recognises MDA as a critical requirement for maritime security and an essential tool to deter adversaries, maintain a strategic advantage and engage with her neighbours. In order to ensure that open-source information of maritime shipping movement is available to India, it has signed technical agreements with countries in the region for exchange of white shipping information. This would enhance the MDA in the Indian Ocean Region. As discussed, prior to the inauguration of the IFC-IOR, there were only two IFCs covering the Indo-Pacific Region.

Realising that the IFC of Singapore covers regions towards the Eastern seaboard of India, and the RMIFC covers the south-western region of the Indian Ocean, there is a void on the Western seaboard of India in terms of an MDA picture for the Indo-Pacific Region. Accordingly, India commissioned the IFC-IOR at the state-of-the-art Information Management and Analysis Centre (IMAC).

The nature of the maritime domain and the sheer magnitude of maritime traffic in the Region, make it difficult for countries to address MDA, unilaterally. Hence, collaborative efforts between like-minded maritime nations are essential. In line with this thinking, India proactively engages with countries of the Region to enhance maritime co-operation. To further this, the Republic of India pursues activities such as:

  • White shipping information exchange. In order to effectively fill gaps in attaining the domain picture India has signed white shipping agreements with 36 countries of the Region. The data received as a part of such an information exchange is collated and analysed at the Integrated Headquarters Ministry of Defence (Navy) and IMAC.
  • Coastal Surveillance Radar Systems. Towards capacity building and promoting maritime security in the Region, Coastal Surveillance Radar systems (including Automatic Identification System [AIS] Chains) are being installed in neighbouring countries. India has already installed coastal surveillance radar systems (CSRS) network across Seychelles, Mauritius and Sri Lanka. As of January 2019, India is in advanced discussions with Myanmar to install these radars there. India has also offered these radars to Bangladesh, Indonesia, Thailand and Maldives.[54]
  • Trans-Regional Maritime Network (T-RMN). The T-RMN facilitates information exchange on the movement of commercial traffic on the high seas with the information being made available primarily through the AIS. This network boosts maritime security of the country and help improving the MDA of the region. The T-RMN is an initiative led by Italy and India has signed the agreement on 11 December 2018.[55]

On the home front for a better and an organised MDA, India has

  • Prepared its National Maritime Policy in 2018 which is currently under discussion before it can be promulgated.
  • India conducted a one of its own kind maritime domain awareness exercise named SEA VIGIL on 22-23 January 2019 that involved maritime stakeholders at the Centre and all the 13 Coastal States and Union Territories.[56]

6.1.4.    Areas of concern

While the need of the hour is to ensure a comprehensive MDA, there are some areas of concern that make this task challenging. These include:

  • Technical hurdles. The effectiveness of an MDA is governed by the efficiency of the practitioners to create a common operational picture. The creation of such a picture is complicated due to poor interoperability between source of information and challenges of data integrity with lack of standardisation between systems being the main reason for this drawback. Given the fact that the IMO standardises only AIS and Long-Range Identification and Tracking (LRIT) systems, other networks and data exchange systems are not always interoperable. This leads to technical hurdles when non-standard equipment is used to facilitate date exchange.
  • Law and MDA. A number of legal issues plague the smooth preparation of MDA. These are:
  • Lack of a clearly defined legal mechanism to prosecute maritime criminals.
  • Lack of legal mechanisms to handle data misinterpretation and misclassification or loss.
  • Lack of provision to demand data from vessels transiting off own maritime zones under the UNCLOS due to absence of any further international cooperative mechanisms being established.[57] As an example of the latter, in 2004 Australia declared its intention to create a 1,000 nautical mile (nm) “Maritime Information Zone” within which it proposed that any passing vessel would be “required to provide details of cargo, destination, crew, port of call and likely arrival time at port.”[58]
  • Military data. When States gather intelligence, the effort involves collection of information including that about the maritime areas of another State that at times may enable a nation to make decisions about their own national defence[59] due to which at times such collaborative arrangements are not seen with trust.
  • White shipping data. The white shipping data as collected may become a critical question for assessing its legality. Though UNCLOS makes reference to MSR and survey activities but provides no comprehensive definition of white shipping data which creates an ambiguity.
  • Integrity of AIS. The AIS is vulnerable to ‘data manipulation’.[60] In the last two years, there has been a 30 per cent increase in the number of ships reporting false identities. Nearly 40 per cent of the ships do not report their next port of call to prevent the commodity operators and to preclude speculation.[61] There is a growing tendency among merchant ships to shut down AIS, and ‘go dark’. This can mislead the security forces who have to respond in time of need.

6.2.  Israel

6.2.1.    MDA

The centrality of the maritime domain for Israel, notwithstanding, the Israeli national policy has been characterized — from the period of illegal immigration before the establishment of the State of Israel to the recent times — by a lack of awareness, resulting in the lack of a National Maritime Domain Policy.[62]

During the past two decades, the stark contrast between the crucial importance of the marine domain to the State of Israel and the lack of an overall National Maritime Domain Policy has become more acute. However, a number of baby steps have brought about changes and developments in the Israeli Maritime Domain Awareness.

The sea and its routes have been central for Israel from the days of the Mandate[63], when the sea was the main channel for Clandestine immigration. Furthermore, the Arab pressure and the fear of an embargo were among the main motives for the creation of an independent merchant fleet under an Israeli flag, including passenger ships, which reached its peak in the 1970s. Since then and as part of the globalization process, Israel has come to depend on international shipping for its trade that has led to a decline in its local shipping.[64]

Israel’s maritime domain however has changed dramatically in the recent decades, due to both, the changes in its characteristics and the change in its national awareness. The characteristics of Israel’s maritime domain reflects to a large extent the characteristics of the maritime domains of the other Eastern Mediterranean countries, namely the tension between the desire to economically develop the maritime domain and the strains of this development on the environment and the ecology that are liable to transform the domain into a marine desert due to pollution, warming of the sea, excess salinity, change in the acidity of the sea, the destruction of fisheries and overfishing.

In the Israeli case, the issue is particularly acute in view of the importance of the maritime domain from a security viewpoint. The Israeli navy has—within its limited resources—developed an ability to maintain ‘situational awareness’ in the maritime domain. However, from a national perspective, there is still no full solution to the issue as the State of Israel does not have a national policy for the maritime domain, nor a grand maritime strategy.[65] The perspective has been littoral at best, and so have been the legal jurisdiction and the planning tools.[66] However, starting 2012 and subsequently picking up momentum in 2014, the Planning Authority (today a part of the Ministry of Finance) initiated a national process with the support of the EU to formulate Israel’s policy for the maritime domain. As part of the process, a draft policy paper was published in October 2017[67] for public review. Public seminars were held to present the program and to get the public involved[68] to refine the policy. This done, it was finally submitted for approval in 2018 where it remains to date.

The need for a Maritime Domain Awareness is also important in other areas other than defence. Though this monograph focuses primarily on the defence aspect, other areas where it has great potential are in dealing with environmental issues including monitoring of the seas, marine pollution such as oil spillage[69], bio-diversities, fish stocks, and underwater mining to name a few.

6.2.2.    Major Trends and Developments in Israel’s Regional Maritime Domain

Israel’s regional maritime domain has become increasingly dynamic, complex and at times volatile – mainly in the realms of national security and economics. These developments as discussed herein carry major political implications and calls for action.

  • Destabilizing effect of the Shiites on the maritime domain. The most important development for Israel in the recent times is the destabilizing effect of the Shiites on the maritime domain. The attack by Yemeni Houthi rebels on two Saudi crude carriers in July 2018 and the series of attacks on tankers which are attributed to Iran, as well as GPS jamming in the Straits of Hormuz and the seizure of two British ships[70] are some examples of this destabilizing effect. The Iranian hostile activities in the Strait of Hormuz and the assaults of the Houthis in the Strait of Bab-el-Mandeb in the Red Sea both marked the importance of the maritime region and emphasized the world’s vulnerability to the event in these areas.[71] Both straits are vital trade routes for energy and for world trade. The very threat to freedom of navigation though these routes affects the global economy – the oil prices, maritime transport prices and insurance costs – as well as political stability and the chances of a violent clash.

It is with this thinking in mind that the Israel’s Prime Minister, Netanyahu, declared in August 2018, following the threats to close the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, that “If Iran tries to block Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, I am convinced that it will find itself facing an international coalition determined to prevent it. This coalition will also include the State of Israel.”[72] A year later, Israel’s Foreign Minister was quoted saying that Israel is taking part in the international coalition in the Persian Gulf.[73] Currently, the U.S. is trying to form an international maritime coalition, including Gulf Arab nations and Israel, aimed to secure vital trade routes from additional Iranian attacks on tankers in the Persian Gulf waters. Accordingly, the U.S. held in Bahrain a conference of Maritime and Aviation Security Working Group including Gulf States and Israeli official representatives in October 2019 putting “aviation and maritime security as the top of the policy agenda in the region.”[74] From an Israeli perspective, the willingness of Gulf States to publically meet Israeli officials is yet another step towards a coalition against the Iranian threat, including its threat to the maritime domain.[75]

Furthermore, Iran is active in trying to establish a maritime position in Syria. This Iranian move interconnects with its larger scheme to build a strategic land path from Iran to the Mediterranean. However, both Israel and the U.S. regard this step as undesirable, while Russia is putting pressure on Syria to prevent this from happening.[76] Iran, in the meantime, keeps pressuring the Assad regime to let it lease a part of the Port of Latakia despite Russian objections.[77] If Iran succeeds, it is expected to expose substantial consequences for Israel’s maritime domain awareness and increase the potential for a direct confrontation between Israel and Iran in the maritime domain as well. Although, the Iranian Navy is aging and its power projection in the Mediterranean is limited in scope, even such limited potential presence bears consequences for Israel, considering the proximity between the Syrian territorial waters and the Israeli border and the potential use of fast boat attacks and standoff capabilities.[78]

These and other of a similar nature, necessitate the requirement for a near-real-time multi-sensor intelligence, data fusion, and the need to share information so as to act in a timely fashion. Israel has a relative advantage in intelligence gathering and data fusion and hence can become a meaningful partner, in a possible international coalition.

  • Growing tension between the U.S. and China. Another major development in Israel’s maritime domain derives from the growing tension between the U.S. and China. China on one hand continues to promote its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in the region, with significant success, while the U.S. on the other hand applies pressure on the host nations of the BRI, including Israel, to rethink their position, thereby creating a major political tension.

China’s growing activism in the Mediterranean and the Red Sea is part of its maritime strategic plan that compliments the BRI. This includes growing investments in transportation infrastructure, naval presence and naval exercises.[79] In this perspective, China has become increasingly active since 2008, in the anti-piracy campaign off the Horn of Africa.[80] This continuous effort serves China in turning its traditional coastal Navy into a Blue-water navy with global capabilities, enhanced power projection capabilities and acquired operational experience in far seas missions.[81]

In order to indicate its presence and stakes in this region, China conducted its first maritime exercise in the Eastern Mediterranean in May 2015 together with Russia.[82]

In addition, the other significant development in this region is the completion of the construction of China’s first overseas military base in Djibouti in 2017.[83] This base is located just over 10 km away from the U.S. sole military base in the whole of Africa. China calls it a logistics support base, which supports its anti-piracy effort, its ability to protect Chinese assets in the region and it enables China to evacuate its citizens when needed.[84] But more significantly, this base is a strategic post, central to securing Chinese vital trade route as well as supporting its potential power projection in the region.

With China’s involvement in this region, Israel is forced to take into consideration the Chinese impact on its maritime domain awareness, among other things. Moreover, pressure from the Trump’s Administration on Israel regarding the planned operation of the newly built port in Haifa by the Chinese has put Israel in a spot with regard to its maritime domain policy.[85]

  • Progress in the energy field. The third development concerns the dramatic and vast progress in the energy field, mainly due to the discoveries and developments of new gas fields in the region. This includes the new cooperation in the eastern Mediterranean between Cyprus, Greece, Israel, Italy, Jordan and the Palestinian National Authority with the support of the U.S. and the EU called the ‘East Mediterranean Gas Forum’ in January 2019 and the progress of the Israeli new gas fields, especially with regard to the fields deep in the Israeli EEZ.

The forum aims to ensure gas resources in the East Mediterranean that can be developed economically with countries “fostering regional energy cooperation”. This development was augmented by agreements between Israel and Egypt in February 2019 to commence export of gas from Israel to Egypt, and between Cyprus and Egypt to pipe gas from Cyprus’ Aphrodite field to Egypt.[86]

The new cooperation in the Eastern Mediterranean between Israel, Greece and the Republic of Cyprus since 2012, focuses on energy, defence, commerce and tourism. At the backdrop of the contested relations with Turkey and the support of the US and the EU, the tripartite cooperation is gaining momentum.[87] Energy and defence issues drive the three to further explore new projects that expose maritime aspects. To provide a couple of examples:

  • The concept of transporting gas from Israel and Cyprus EEZ in the Eastern Mediterranean basin to Europe through Cyprus, Greece and onward to Italy which is called the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Pipeline (East-Med), bears dramatic consequences for the energy market in the region as well as to the maritime domain awareness. Constructing, operating and securing such a gigantic project will demand an increase in the maritime operational capabilities of Israel as well as demand for further interstate cooperation on issues of surveillance, data integration and intervention. So far, the EU has given a green signal to a feasibility study. However, it is yet to be decided if the parties will go on with the project. Furthermore, Israel and Cyprus share holdings to a vast gas reserve, which spreads to the EEZ of both countries and has yet to be agreed upon regarding its co-development. In the meantime, Turkey is drilling for gas in waters that are internationally recognized as part of Cyprus EEZ. In this case as well, any progress will accent the need for and the importance of joint maritime awareness activities between Israel, Cyprus, Greece and Italy.
  • As part of the newly formed political alliance, it was published that Greece and Israel are jointly building a ‘Long Horizon’ radar, which will be stationed in eastern Crete and will enable monitoring the Eastern Mediterranean.[88]

6.2.3.    Current status of MDA

For Israel, like any other maritime nation, the traditional maritime domain awareness (situational awareness), is maintained by the Navy by adjusting and rising to new challenges. In doing so, the Israeli Navy is building a new generation of corvettes (SAAR-6) with extended operational capabilities, as part of the Navy’s mission to protect the EEZ. This necessity to protect the EEZ forced the Israeli Navy to triple the range of coverage and to significantly widen its situational awareness.

In the realm of international cooperation that aims to promote maritime awareness, Israel participates in several EU-led programs, two of which are the Border Security Project as part of the Southern Neighbourhood cooperation and the Project for Technical Assistance.

  • EU4Border Security project – Israel was invited to join the Border Security Project together with Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia, as part of the EU Southern Neighbourhood (SN) program. The project aims at building trust, understanding, structured partnerships, and exchange of experiences/ practices between Southern Neighbourhood countries and the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex).[89] In addition it aims to promote integrated border management, training, risk analysis, situation monitoring and information management.[90] In the maritime domain, the Agency takes special interest in maritime domain awareness, as part of its mission in migration enforcement, smugglers apprehension, as well as search and rescue operations.
  • Project for Technical Assistance – Israel was also invited to participate in the EU effort to promote maritime domain awareness through the Technical Assistance Project.[91] In this regard, the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) brings together EU members and regional non-EU members, with the aim of enhancing national capabilities to monitor vessel traffic and encourage data exchange, namely to improve national maritime domain awareness through regional cooperation and promote maritime pollution preparedness and response capabilities, based on the established maritime domain awareness. Of special interest in the context of maritime awareness are the CleanSeaNet – EMSA’s Satellite Based Oil Spill and Vessel Detection Service[92] that Israel joined in 2014, as well as activities promoting Vessel Traffic Monitoring and Information Systems, which include, among other things, Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) training and AIS sharing through Integrated Maritime Services (IMS).[93]
  • National maritime policy – As on date Israel lacks a national maritime strategy policy. A policy paper was drafted in 2018 and awaits its approval. The policy paper draft offered, for the first time, an integrative approach that includes a maritime strategy for Israel, suggestions for required legislation, a framework for the management, the preservation and planning of all utilities in the maritime domain that would relate to all of the relevant issues, including but not limited to security considerations. Lamentably, there has been no major progress so far.

7.       Unanswered Questions

Subsequent to the review of Israel current status of the maritime domain awareness issue, some questions need to be addressed.

  • Is the expansion of the maritime domain awareness concept beneficial? One may recall that the origin of the concept is primarily ‘operational’ and was mainly focused on ‘military affairs’. As discussed earlier, expanding the concept of maritime domain awareness beyond military affairs has benefits however, it raises risk of over-expansion, namely, the risk of all-inclusiveness. This would make the concept to lose its meaning and its conceptual rigorousness.
  1. Having considered the pro and cons of the issue, the bottom line is pro-expansion. However, one should outline the borders of the concept as to prevent over-expansion. The need for expansion rests on the notion that some non-military aspects are at least as important to maritime security as military ones. Notwithstanding, the discussion should be limited to the impact of military and non-military implications on the possibility of use of force.
    • The need to articulate how or what is threatening, and whom or what is being threatened and how so. This question encourages non-unitarian answers to questions that not so long ago were considered straightforward. In that sense, it takes the route of ‘problematizing’ the issue of maritime domain awareness.
    • Is there one agency responsible for the maritime domain awareness in a nation? In most countries, it is not so. In the meantime, different agencies master different aspect of the issue, may it be the Navy, the Coast Guard, the Port Authority, the Customs, the Police, and the Ministry of Environmental Protection. Furthermore, in some aspects, the issue is being privatised. For example, Energean Oil and Gas Company that develop the new Karish and Tanin gas fields (90 km west to Haifa) invested in independent situation awareness capabilities, in addition to the Navy’s capabilities. In that context, as of January 2019, Elbit Security Systems has won the tender to secure the field. Among other things, Elbit will be providing Energean with a wide range of sensors, electro-optics, sonar, radar and advanced control centre to be used.[94] The question that needs an answer is – should we privatize Maritime Domain Awareness?
    • How far should any country go in setting the vision of maritime domain awareness? For both India and Israel this question is premature, since both of them are still struggling to set the basic ground of the issue. However, setting a long term vision for maritime domain awareness can serve as a compass for future endeavours. In that sense, the question relates also to the length and depth of future international and regional cooperation that countries should be willing to take. Israel, like other countries in the region, is very keen in keeping its independence and holds a profound belief that it must always be able to protect itself by itself. In that regard, going beyond regular military to military, or government to government dialogue is hard to expect. India, on the other hand, believes in Security and Growth for all in the Region (SAGAR) and hence feels that all boats need to rise together as in a tide for growth of the region and hence wishes to cooperate and engage with all in the Indo-Pacific region to ensure free, safe and open seas.

8.       Way Ahead

The need for Maritime Domain Awareness cannot be but emphasised as a necessity for every maritime nation, irrespective of where they may be. However, in the same breath one would like to say that the growing challenges in the maritime domain and the zeal for humanity to go deeper into the ocean depth are increasing the challenges to achieve this maritime domain awareness. Though not conclusive and exhaustive, there are some actions that can be recommended for both India and Israel at the national and at the collaborative front.

8.1.  India

Some possible way-ahead at the international/ regional level are:

  • Regional information need to be supported by continuous training and capacity building endeavours. Such endeavours should not be viewed as short-term goals but as part of long-term efforts that contribute to progressive steps that are necessary for the region.
  • Investment in regional structures cannot be ignored by the international community. Greater investment in analytical and relevant technologies is required. Given the overall resource constraints, further attention needs to be given in orchestrating the initiatives and programmes in order to develop a coherent structure that aids all users of the regional waters.
  • These realities signal the need to ensure that actions taken as a part of a comprehensive approach in addressing sea-based threats ought to balance sovereignty and national interests on the one hand, and duties and responsibilities on the other. Regardless of how interests are balanced and what compromises are reached, a common and non-negotiable principle among all stakeholders must be that there should not exist a lack of awareness. In this regard:
  • Regional nations and stakeholder should regularly update agreements between national maritime security agencies and other respective functionaries.
  • The Indo-Pacific needs to put in place regional logistical burden-sharing arrangements and mechanisms to allocate resources and facilities of member states to reduce the burden on coastal States responsible for large scale MDA operations.
    • Logical burden sharing arrangements aid in connecting the various information systems to build comprehensive maritime domain awareness and promote effective maritime governance by addressing current gaps and overlaps. This could be taken up by regional nations, in collaboration with other interest groups and stakeholders under the extant regional arrangements.

Some possible way-ahead at the national level are:

  • IFC-IOR being young can focus on communication methods (Website, Twitter and Facebook), production of basic deliverables (daily brief, IOR ports Maritime Traffic Status, Press summary, Recognized Maritime Picture, weekly, monthly and annual report on Maritime Safety and Security of the region of concern) like other IFCs to develop faith amongst stakeholders and indicate its relevance for more nations to join.
  • Though small fishing boats complicate MDA, they also act as ‘eyes and ears’ of the security agencies. There is a need to ensure that compulsory identity cards for fishermen, their boat registration and tracking is undertaken. Furthermore, training capsules need to be conducted for them to ensure that they are wary of the looming security threats from the ocean. In return, they need to be supported with a robust MDA for ensuring a sustainable Blue Economy.

8.2.  Israel

Since the State of Israel is still taking its preliminary steps in the area of Maritime Domain Awareness, further progress should be pursued in three different levels: national level, regional level and international level. At the end of this section a reference will be made as to possible future India-Israel collaboration.

At the national level, Israel must implement an institutionalized national framework to deal with regional maritime awareness. Such process attracts inherent bureaucratic and organizational antagonism. Hence it is expected to be tedious, arduous and long. However, at the end, if the process will succeed and forge an integrative body that is responsible for defining the goals, policies and means to implement them, including information integration, coordination and synchronization among stakeholders, as well as formulating workable and implementation-oriented work plan, then the effort would be worthwhile.

At the regional level, Israel should promote regional maritime awareness cooperation, with an emphasis on promoting cooperation with regional players – in the Mediterranean and the Red Sea. In the Mediterranean, promoting cooperation with Egypt, Greece and Cyprus appears to be a top priority. Further promotion and institutionalization of maritime awareness plans with EU naval forces operating in the region is expected to be beneficial for both sides. In the Red Sea, Israel should promote coordination and cooperation with Egypt as well as with European and American naval forces, and possibly with moderate Arab forces in the region.

At the international level, Israel should pro-actively participate in international maritime awareness initiatives where it can offer its advantages, mainly in technological solutions – products and services. In return, Israel can benefit by adopting best practices from countries that are more advanced in implementing the concept of maritime domain awareness.

8.3.  Collaborative

As discussed earlier, generating an effective MDA is not possible by the efforts of a single player alone. It requires collaboration. In this regard, it is opined that India and Israel can cooperate in various areas of technology and inter-operability to support each other in creating an MDA, especially for security purposes. Indian Navy has dealt with the concept for several years now and has come out with substantial results. On the Israeli side, the concept of MDA is still under review with little conceptual traction, at this stage. However, on the practical level, Israel develops and implements concrete and operational measures regarding its maritime domain awareness. Therefore, Indian-Israeli possible future cooperation can include:

  • Navy-to-Navy leaning process, in which the Israeli Navy can learn and adopt relevant Indian concepts and practices in the field of maritime domain awareness.
  • The Red Sea is a common focal point for both India and Israel. Hence the Red sea presents a possible common focal point of interest and possible cooperation. This can include sharing of information and joint naval exercises.
  • Israel being a leading actor in the domain of cyber security can provide for the enhancement of the security of data for MDA network at IMAC.
  • The existing technical bilateral agreements between India and Israel with regard to sharing of white shipping information allows for rapid integration of the two nations. Though there is already a technical agreement to share white shipping data between the two countries, the next logical step would be to position an ILO at IFC-IOR.

9.       Takeaway

The key takeaway from this monograph for the two countries may be summarised as under:

  • Through Israel lags behind on the institutional and organizational level of implementing maritime domain awareness structure, it is rather advanced in developing technological tools to tackle the issue. Therefore, it is recommended that Israel should:
  • Implement an institutionalized national framework to dealing with regional maritime awareness.
  • Promote cooperation with regional and international players in the Mediterranean and the Red Sea, with India being a pertinent partner for the task.
  • Pro-actively participate in international maritime awareness initiatives.
  • Learn and adopt relevant practices from the Indian Navy.
    • As seen in the discussions, India has over the years put its mechanisms for MDA in the field of maritime security in place. However, it realises that it cannot achieve a complete MDA without collaborative arrangements in place. There it is recommended that India should:
  • Support continuous training and capacity building endeavours as long-term efforts to contribute to progressive security and growth for the region.
  • Orchestrate initiatives and collaborations with Israel to develop a coherent structure that aids all users of the regional waters.
  • Update agreements at regional level between national maritime security agencies and other respective functionaries.
  • Put in place regional logistical burden-sharing arrangements and mechanisms to reduce burden on coastal States for MDA operations.
  • Support and recognise the contribution of small fishing boats as ‘eyes and ears’ of the security agencies with identity cards, boat registration and installation of tracking devices.


10.   Conclusion

The need to understand and know the oceans is increasing as the international community has commenced its movement into the oceans for fulfilling its needs. With oceans being an important medium for maritime trade, the need to create awareness about the ocean becomes even more important. Nations and organisations have been trying to understand and map the ocean individually. However, with time they have realised that cooperative mechanisms provides better and more accurate results. The Indo-Pacific Region is not different in this regard. It also requires collaborative and cooperative mechanisms to harness a reliable Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA). From the security point of view, MDA in its entirety should feed into effective awareness that would result in better law enforcement and in furthering the national interests of the countries while maintaining peace, security and good order at sea.

The concept of maritime domain awareness is valuable, since it offers a tool of strategic assessment as well as situational assessment. In developing this MDA architecture, the Regions need to take an incremental approach that pursues realistic goals and ensures ownership and sustainability. Such architecture needs to focus on measures that benefit the larger Blue Economy and regional ocean governance, along with its primal area of concern, ‘security’. There is hence a need to advance coordination of regional and/or sub-regional capacity-building exercises and training related to maritime security information sharing.


About the Authors:

*Captain (Dr) Nitin Agarwala is a former Research Fellow at the National Maritime Foundation. He can be reached at nitindu@yahoo.com.

** Ram Erez is a Research Fellow at the Maritime Policy and Strategy Research Center, Haifa University, Israel.

*** Suriya Narayanan is a former Research Fellow at the National Maritime Foundation and is presently pursuing his Master’s from IMLI, Malta.



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[2]       Pradeep Chauhan, Maritime cooperation and confidence-building, in Southeast Asia and the Rise of Chinese and Indian Naval Power: Between rising naval powers, Ed. Sam Bateman, Joshua Ho, 197 (2014)

[3]       Joseph L. Nimmich and Dana A. Goward, Maritime Domain Awareness: The Key to Maritime Security, https://digital-commons.usnwc.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https://www.google.com/&httpsredir=1&article=1160&context=ils

[4]       Steven C. Boraz, Maritime Domain Awareness; Myths and Realities, https://www.hsdl.org/?abstract&did=699259

[5]       In December 2004, President Bush issued a Presidential Directive on the subject in which he broadly defined the maritime domain as follows:  “all areas and things of, on, under, relating to, adjacent to, or bordering on a sea, ocean, or other navigable waterway, including all maritime-related activities, infrastructure, people, cargo, and vessels and other conveyances. Due to its complex nature and immense size, the Maritime Domain is particularly susceptible to exploitation and disruption by individuals, organizations, and States. The Maritime Domain facilitates a unique freedom of movement and flow of goods while allowing people, cargo, and conveyances to transit with anonymity not generally available by movement over land or by air.” National Security Presidential Directive NSPD-41, December 21, 2004. https://www.hsdl.org/?abstract&did=776173

[6] National Security Presidential Directive NSPD-41, December 21, 2004. https://www.hsdl.org/?abstract&did=776173

[7]       DHS (2005), US National Plan to Achieve Maritime Domain Awareness. https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/HSPD_MDAPlan_0.pdf

[8]       DHS (2005), US National Plan to Achieve Maritime Domain Awareness. https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/HSPD_MDAPlan_0.pdf

[9]       National Strategy for Maritime Security: National Plan to Achieve Maritime Domain Awareness,  Homeland Security Presidential Directive, Government of United States of America (2005), https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/HSPD_MDAPlan_0.pdf

[10]      National Security Presidential Directive NSPD-41, December 21, 2004. https://www.hsdl.org/?abstract&did=776173

[11]      Amendments To The International Aeronautical And Maritime Search And Rescue (IAMSAR) Manual, International Maritime Organisation (2010) http://www.imo.org/blast/blastDataHelper.asp?data_id=29093&filename=1367.pdf

[12]      It is however essential to clarify that the amendment is primarily harmonization of SAR as a result of ICAO-IMO joint working group recommendation.  They have made a mention ‘SURPICs can be used to identify and locate potential vessels as well as improve maritime domain awareness (MDA)’, where SURPICs are that of system as per SAR Convention and not that of MDA. They have only allowed, if required that can be used to improve the MDA and not vice versa.International Maritime Organization, MSC.1/Circ. 1415, Amendments to the International Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue (IAMSAR) Manual 11 (May 25, 2012), http://www.mardep.gov.hk/en/msnote/pdf/msin1242anx1.pdf

[13]      Such as warfare, dumping, detonation, Underwater explosion etc.

[14]      Jonathan E. Colby, The Developing International Law on Gathering and Sharing Security Intelligence, Yale Studies In World Public Order 49, 53 (1974) (quoted in Natalie Klein, Maritime Security and the Law of the Sea 211 (2012))

[15] India, Sri Lanka, Maldives sign maritime pact, The BRICS Post, 9 July 2013, http://www.thebricspost.com/india-sri-lanka-maldives-sign-maritime-pact/#.XQNIqi2B1QI

[16]      MEA, 09 July 2013, Outcome Document of the Second NSA-Level Meeting on Trilateral Cooperation on Maritime Security between India, the Maldives and Sri Lanka, Retrieved from https://www.mea.gov.in/bilateral-documents.htm?dtl/21922/Outcome+Document+of+the+Second+NSALevel+Meeting+on+Trilateral+Cooperation+on+Maritime+Security+between+India+the+Maldives+and+Sri+Lanka

[17]      George Galdorisi, June 2006, “Maritime Domain Awareness: The Key to Maritime Security Operational Challenges and Technical Solutions”, https://apps.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a463128.pdf

[18]      Jeff Douglas, CTO 11 September 2013, Positioning and Telemetry for Efficiency and Safety, https://www.slideshare.net/JeffDouglas2/solas-high-value-telemetry

[19]      Resolution A.1106 (29), Revised Guidelines for the onboard operational use of shipborne automatic identification systems (AIS), International Maritime Organisation, 2015

[20]      Global security, Maritime Domain Awareness, https://www.globalsecurity.org/intell/systems/mda.htm

[21]      Vessels that choose to not broadcast their AIS signal or that broadcast a spoof AIS signal

[22]      Population trends, UNFPA Asia and Pacific, https://asiapacific.unfpa.org/en/node/15207

[23]      Johnny Wood, 06 Dec 2018, Why Asia-Pacific is especially prone to natural disasters, World Economic Forum, https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/12/why-asia-pacific-is-especially-prone-to-natural-disasters/

[24]      In his keynote address, of the Annual Maritime Power Conference 2013, at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA), under the aegis of the National Maritime Foundation, Available at http://www.spsnavalforces.com/story/?id=258

[25]      Khurana, Gurpreet S. , (2007) ‘Security of Sea Lines: Prospects for India-Japan Cooperation’, Strategic Analysis, Volume 31, No. 1, p.139 – 153

[26]      David Scott (2012) “India and the Allure of the ‘Indo-Pacific’”, International Studies, 49 (3&4), p.1-24, Sage Publications, London

[27]      Defending Australia and its National Interests, Defence White Paper 2013, Department of Defence, Australian Government, May 13

[28]      PIB, 01 Jun 2018, Text of Prime Minister’s Keynote Address at Shangri La Dialogue, http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=179711

[29]      Eran Lerman, “New Realities in the Eastern Mediterranean,” the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security, 19.12.2018, https://jiss.org.il/en/lerman-new-realities-in-the-eastern-mediterranean/

[30] Gard New 198, July 2010, “Why registration with MSCHOA is vital in the war on piracy”, http://www.gard.no/web/updates/content/3486550/why-registration-with-mschoa-is-vital-in-the-war-on-piracy

[31]      https://www.crimario.eu/en/2018/07/11/ioris-indian-ocean-regional-information-sharing-platform-is-operational/

[32]      RMIFC website, http://crfimmadagascar.org/en/historique/; See also, https://africacenter.org/programs/enhancing-maritime-security-in-africa/

[33]      Press release, 27 October 2017, “A stronger maritime cooperation in Madagascar and Comoros”, https://www.crimario.eu/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/20171025-CRIMARIO-formation-MDP-9-Madagascar-communique%CC%81-final-EN.pdf

[34]      CRIMARIO Watch, 16 July 2017, Seychelles opens two maritime information sharing centres, https://www.crimario.eu/en/2017/07/16/seychelles-opens-two-maritime-information-sharing-centres/

[35]      MINDEF Singapore, 14 May 2019, Fact Sheet on Information Fusion Centre (IFC) and Launch of IFC’s Real-Time Information-Sharing System (IRIS), https://www.mindef.gov.sg/web/portal/mindef/news-and-events/latest-releases/article-detail/2019/May/14may19_fs

[36]      PTI, 11 Dec 2018, India signs ascension pact to the 30-member Trans Regional Maritime Network, The Economic Times, https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/india-signs-ascension-pact-to-the-30-member-trans-regional-maritime-network/articleshow/67037915.cms?from=mdr

[37]      The Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against ships in Asia, officially launched on 29 November 2006 in Singapore, is a multilateral agreement between 20 nations (14 Asian countries, 4 European countries, Australia, the USA)

[38]      Signed by Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Maldives, Seychelles, Somalia, the United Republic of Tanzania and Yemen

[39]      Prashanth Parameswaran, 29 October 2015, What Does Malaysia’s New Defense Budget for 2016 Mean?, The Diplomat, Available at https://thediplomat.com/2015/10/what-does-malaysias-new-defense-budget-for-2016-mean/

[40]      Shaul Chorev & Douglas J Feith et. al. (2019). The Eastern Mediterranean in the New Era of Major-Power Competition: Prospects for U.S.-Israeli Cooperation. University of Haifa-Hudson Institute Consortium on the Eastern Mediterranean,  p. 9. http://hms.haifa.ac.il/images/publications/HUDSON/EasternMed_in_New_Era.pdf

[41]      Aviad Rubin, Ehud Eiran, Regional maritime security in the eastern Mediterranean: expectations and reality, International Affairs, Volume 95, Issue 5, September 2019, Pages 979–997, https://doi.org/10.1093/ia/iiz146

[42]      Vijay Sakuja, 01 Dec ember 2014, IPCS, India and Maritime Security: Do More, Retrieved from http://www.ipcs.org/comm_select.php?articleNo=4764

[43]      Rajat Pandit, 10 June 214, “Apex maritime authority for coastal security”, Indian Express, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/36316877.cms?utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=cppst

[44]      IMSS, Ministry of Defence, India, 2015, ISBN: 978-93-81722-22-0 https://www.indiannavy.nic.in/sites/default/files/Indian_Maritime_Security_Strategy_Document_25Jan16.pdf

[45]      Navi-Harbour VTMS, TRANSAS, Retrieved from https://www.transas.com/products/vtms/vessel-traffic-management-system/VTS

[46]      PTI, 13 Sep 2007, “ONGC installs offshore surveillance system”, Economic Times, https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/ongc-installs-offshore-surveillance-system/articleshow/2366591.cms?from=mdr

[47]      DGLL, NAIS, http://www.dgll.nic.in/Content/73_1_NAIS.aspx

[48]      TNN, 24 Sep 2018, “Phase-II of Coastal Surveillance Network to be completed on time: Nirmala Sitaraman”, Times of India, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/65938754.cms?utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=cppst

[49]      https://www.slideshare.net/cppr123/coastal-security

[50]      Press Information Bureau, 23 November 2013, “Coastal Security Network Must Ensure Zero Tolerance to Error: Parrikar”, http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=111697

[51]      VAdm AK Chawla, IN perspective: Coastal Surveillance and Response, presentation in Session on Coastal Surveillance and Response Systems and Platforms, ‘Make in India’ Paradigm: Roadmap for a Future Ready Naval Force, April 18-19, 2016,FICCI, New Delhi http://ficci.in/events/22716/ISP/1-VAdm-AK-Chawla.pdf

[52]      Infraline energy, 18 May 2011, Oil and Gas, http://www.infraline.com/Details/vatms-project-for-east-coast-128592.htm

[53]       VAdm AK Chawla, IN perspective: Coastal Surveillance and Response, presentation in Session on Coastal Surveillance and Response Systems and Platforms, ‘Make in India’ Paradigm: Roadmap for a Future Ready Naval Force, April 18-19, 2016,FICCI, New Delhi http://ficci.in/events/22716/ISP/1-VAdm-AK-Chawla.pdf

[54]      Bagchi, Indrani, 23 January 2019, India to renew coastal radar offer during Maldives defence minister’s visit, Retrieved 28 January 2019 – via The Economic Times, https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/67652263.cms

[55]      PTI, 11 Dec 2018, India signs ascension pact to the 30-member Trans Regional Maritime Network, The Economic Times, https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/india-signs-ascension-pact-to-the-30-member-trans-regional-maritime-network/articleshow/67037915.cms?from=mdr

[56]      PIB, 23 January 2019, Two-day coastal defence exercise  “Sea Vigil” concludes, https://pib.gov.in/Pressreleaseshare.aspx?PRID=1561201

[57]      See Douglas Guilfoyle, Maritime Security, in Law of the Sea: UNCLOS as a living treaty, 329 (Jill Barrett & Richard Barnes eds., 2016).

[58]      Catherine McGrath, Government Boosts Maritime Security, ABC (Dec. 15, 2004), www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2004/s1266082.htm

[59]      Natalie Klein, Maritime Security and the Law of the Sea, Oxford University Press, 2011

[60]      Tom Simonite, Oct 18, 2013, Ship Tracking Hack Makes Tankers Vanish from View, MIT Technology Review, https://www.technologyreview.com/s/520421/ship-tracking-hack-makes-tankers-vanish-from-view/

[61]      Kyle Wilhoit and Marco Balduzzi (Senior Threat Researcher), October 15, 2013, Vulnerabilities Discovered in Global Vessel Tracking Systems, Trend MICRO, https://blog.trendmicro.com/trendlabs-security-intelligence/vulnerabilities-discovered-in-global-vessel-tracking-systems/

[62]      The gap between the importance of the maritime domain and the lack of a maritime policy raises a fundamental question that is beyond the scope of this chapter, namely: Why didn’t Israel develop Maritime Domain Awareness and a national maritime policy?

[63]      The strife-torn three decades of British rule over Palestine is known as the Mandate.

[64]      In this context, it is worth mentioning the emergence of the container as the main means of maritime trade, which is based on transshipment ports and feeder routes which have taken the punch out of the Arab embargo on ships visiting Israeli ports and has reduced the need to rely on ships under an Israeli flag, along with the globalization of many systems in the national markets and the collapse of the Communist (and pro-Arab) bloc.

[65]      Oded Gur-Lavi, 2017, A Grand Maritime Strategy for Israel, The Maritime Strategic Evaluation for Israel, the Haifa Center for Maritime Policy and Strategy https://poli.hevra.haifa.ac.il/~hms/images/publications/Report_2016/4.pdf; See also the Technion, 2015, The Israel Marine Plan, http://msp-israel.net.technion.ac.il/files/2015/11/Israel-Marine-Plan-.pdf

[66]      The proposed Maritime Zones legislation has been on the table of the Knesset since July 2014. It is meant to define the rights and juristiction of the State of Israel in the coastal waters, the internal waters, the contiguous waters and the Exclusive Economic Zone. As of the time of writing, the proposed law had passed First Reading and was awaiting approval in Second and Third Reading. http://fs.knesset.gov.il//20/law/20_ls1_392707.pdf

[67]      The Planning Authority, 2017, Policy paper for Israel’s  Maritime Domain – Stage II of the Maritime Domain Policy Repot – First Draft for Comments, http://www.iplan.gov.il/Documents/Report_4.pdf [Hebrew]

[68]      As part of the public process, the Haifa Research Center for Maritime Policy and Strategy prepared a response to the draft report and submitted it the Planning Authority. [Hebrew], http://hms.haifa.ac.il/index.php/he/component/content/article/14-publications-heb/98-2018-10-18-11-45-53?Itemid=108

[69]National Monitoring Program in the Mediterranean, Ministry of Environment, Israel, Retrieved from http://www.sviva.gov.il/subjectsEnv/SeaAndShore/MonitoringandResearch/Pages/NationalPlanMed.aspx

[70]      Iran jams GPS on ships in Strait of Hormuz, August 9, 2019. https://www.gpsworld.com/iran-jams-gps-on-ships-in-strait-of-hormuz/; Iran stokes Gulf tensions by seizing two British-linked oil tankers. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jul/19/british-tanker-iran-capture-fears-stena-impero-uk-ship-latest

[71]      In previous years, the issue of piracy was central to the red sea area. However, since the active presence of foreign navies in the region, the number of incidents off the shores of Somalia has dropped dramatically, and became basically a non-issue.

[72]      Israeli Navy, 01.08.2018 https://www.idf.il/%D7%90%D7%AA%D7%A8%D7%99%D7%9D/%D7%96%D7%A8%D7%95%D7%A2-%D7%94%D7%99%D7%9D/%D7%A1%D7%99%D7%95%D7%9D-%D7%A7%D7%95%D7%A8%D7%A1-%D7%97%D7%95%D7%91%D7%9C%D7%99%D7%9D-137/ (Hebrew, free translation)

[73]      https://www.maariv.co.il/news/politics/Article-712414 09/08/2019 (Hebrew)

[74]      Opening remarks by Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa quoted in Senior Israeli official attends Bahrain security meeting focusing on Iran, Reuters, October 21, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-iran-tankers/senior-israeli-official-attends-bahrain-security-meeting-focusing-on-iran-idUSKBN1X019T

[75]      This was not the first time such a gathering took place publicly. In February 2019 the US held a Middle East Conference in Warsaw, U.S. meeting on Middle East brings together Israel, Gulf Arab states, Reuters, February 13, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-summit/u-s-meeting-on-middle-east-brings-together-israel-gulf-arab-states-idUSKCN1Q22E2

[76]      https://www.haaretz.co.il/news/world/middle-east/.premium-1.7340082?utm_source=App_Share&utm_medium=Whatsapp&utm_campaign=Share 07.06.19 (Hebrew)

[77]      April 8, 2019, Iran To Lease Part Of Latakia Port – Reports, The Jerusalem Post, https://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Iran-to-lease-part-of-Latakia-port-reports-586033

[78]      Jul 21, 2019, As Gulf Tensions Grow, Israel Prepares to Fend Off Maritime Threats, Haaretz,   https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-as-gulf-tensions-grow-israel-prepares-to-fend-off-maritime-threats-1.7544557

[79]      Alice Ekman, February 2018, China in the Mediterranean: An Emerging Presence, IFRI Papers, https://www.ifri.org/sites/default/files/atoms/files/ekman_china_mediterranean_2018_v2.pdf

[80]      During 2008–18, the Chinese Navy deployed 26,000 personnel to the region. See: Neil Melvin, The Foreign Military Presence In The Horn of Africa Region, SIPRI Background Paper, April 2019, p. 3. https://www.sipri.org/sites/default/files/2019-05/sipribp1904_2.pdf

[81]      Jerome Henry, China’s Military Deployments in the Gulf of Aden: Anti-Piracy and Beyond, IFRI Policy Paper no. 89, November 21, 2016, p. 24 https://www.ifri.org/sites/default/files/atoms/files/chinas_military_deployments_in_the_gulf_of_aden_anti-piracy_and_beyond_0.pdf

[82]      China has evacuated some 800 citizens from Yeman to Djibouti in April 2015. SIPRI Background Paper (2018), p. 18.

[83]      August 1, 2017, China formally opens first overseas military base in Djibouti. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-djibouti-idUSKBN1AH3E3

[84]       e.g. China has evacuated some 800 citizens from Yeman to Djibouti in April 2015. SIPRI Background Paper (2018), p. 3.

[85]      Bolton Relays Concerns to Netanyahu Over Chinese Investment in Israel, U.S. Official Says, Haaretz, Jan 10, 2019. https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/netanyahu-and-bolton-concerned-over-chinese-telecom-companies-u-s-official-says-1.6827512; See also, Douglas J. Feith, China’s Maritime Strategic Challenge, October 18, 2019. https://www.hudson.org/research/15404-china-s-maritime-strategic-challenge

[86]      The meeting was also attended by US energy secretary Rick Perry and the EU’s director-general for energy, Dominique Ristori, East Mediterranean states look to accelerate regional gas cooperation, 27 July 2019. https://www.hellenicshippingnews.com/east-mediterranean-states-look-to-accelerate-regional-gas-cooperation/

[87]      Gallia Lindenstrauss and Polykarpos Gavrielides, A Decade of Close Greece-Israel Relations: An Assessment, Strategic Assessment, Volume 22, No. 1, April 2019 (Hebrew), https://www.inss.org.il/he/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2019/04/%D7%92%D7%9C%D7%99%D7%94-%D7%95%D7%A4%D7%95%D7%9C%D7%99%D7%A7%D7%A8%D7%A4%D7%95%D7%A1.pdf

[88]      04 March.2019, https://www.kathimerini.gr/1012813/article/epikairothta/politikh/ellhnoisrahlino-rantar-kataskeyazetai-sthn-krhth (Greek. Google translated)

[89]      Frontex homepage https://frontex.europa.eu/about-frontex/foreword/

[90]      The EU Neighbours portal, EU4Border Security project. https://www.euneighbours.eu/en/south/stay-informed/projects/eu4border-security-project

[91]      Additional participant countries include Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco and Tunisia.

[92]      The service uses 12 optical satellites and 8 SAR. Celebrating the CleanSeaNet Service. A ten year anniversary publication, 2017, http://emsa.europa.eu/component/flexicontent/download/4980/3150/23.html

[93]      SAFEMED IV PROJECT http://www.emsa.europa.eu/safemed-iv-project.html

[94]      https://www.globes.co.il/news/article.aspx?did=1001267965 07/01/2019 (Hebrew)


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